PEI

Violinist from Taiwan creates P.E.I.-inspired album after falling in love with the Island

Violinist Tzu-Cheng Wang from Taiwan has performed in many countries, but fell in love with P.E.I. during a trip a few years ago. He will soon release his next album inspired by the Island landscape and his experience living on P.E.I.

'Islanders, they are really kind and friendly to us, to me,' says Tzu-Cheng Wang

Taiwanese man playing violin outside in rural P.E.I.
Tzu-Cheng Wang has performed in many famous concert halls around the world over the years. He fell in love with the Island during a trip to P.E.I. (Thinh Nguyen/CBC)

Violinist and conductor Tzu-Cheng Wang from Taiwan remembers vividly the snowy night in 2020 that inspired his upcoming album. He was driving his family to their home in Montague when their car went off the road and landed in a ditch.

"Outside it's snowing strong and windy and really cold," he said. "I don't know what can I do."

Wang remembered someone in the area he had talked to before, but was hesitant to ask the person for help because it was already close to midnight. 

Eventually, he made the call.

"He [came] to help me immediately. I almost cried," Wang said.

Wang says his upcoming album titled Hello, P.E.I. is inspired by the Island landscape and his experience living here the past few years. (Thinh Nguyen/CBC)

The event inspired a track — Warmth within the Snow —  on Wang's upcoming album, Hello, P.E.I.

"Islanders, they are really kind and friendly to us, to me. So I want to give some present for Islanders," he said.

Three years in the making

Hello, P.E.I. adds to Wang's catalogue of about a dozen albums he's been involved with since his career began in the 2000s. The album's 12 tracks feature violin, cello and piano.

Sprinkled between the album's tracks are nature sounds Wang recorded across P.E.I. — high winds during a snowstorm in Charlottetown, the babbling sound of the Brudenell River and ocean waves on a beach in Souris.

"This album is to talk about the musician and his journey on this Island. He visits a lot of places and different kinds of sceneries," he said.

Four people in a church - a man and woman, and a man carrying a little girl.
Wang is seen with his daughter and, left, his English teachers, Russell and Karen Banfill, after his performance at the P.E.I. Mutual Festival of Small Halls on June 10. (Submitted by Tzu-Cheng Wang)

Wang's neighbour Kuichi Ma, who is also from Taiwan, has been on P.E.I. for four years. Ma has been helping Wang produce the album and together they've started their own record label called ArcticStar.

Like Wang, Ma said she has received a lot of help from the community.

"P.E.I. itself has a lot of positive energy," she said. "Here we can feel compassion, kindness, friendship and happiness. Eventually we want to bring all these good things and spread out to the world."

Illustrated cover art for an album entitled "Hello, P.E.I. The Musical Travelogue of P.E.I." The artwork shows a lighthouse and a sandy beach.
Cover art of Tzu-Cheng Wang's upcoming album, "Hello, P.E.I." (Submitted by Tzu-Cheng Wang)

The pair has been planning the album for about three years. Ma said there were moments when she wasn't sure they should release an instrumental album on P.E.I. because not many Islanders seemed to be listening to that kind of music.

"It's kind of hard to push this album out," she said.

Wang said he used to worry about the same thing, but an event in June changed his mind.

Taiwanese woman with long black hair sits at computer at kitchen table.
Wang’s neighbour Kuichi Ma has been helping him produce the album and together they’ve started their own record label. (Thinh Nguyen/CBC)

He was invited to play on the opening day of the P.E.I. Mutual Festival of Small Halls, and performed a track from the upcoming album.

Before going on stage, he said he asked himself, "Will Islanders love my music or not?"

Wang said he won't forget the moment he finished playing and the audience gave him a standing ovation.

"I just enjoy this moment," he said. "I use my music to be a friend with Islanders."

Hello, P.E.I. will be released on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music by the end of July. The physical album will be released later this year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thinh Nguyen

Associate Producer

Thinh Nguyen is an associate producer with CBC P.E.I. He can be reached at thinh.duc.nguyen@cbc.ca

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