Wow… what an evening…58 tables and approximately 570 people attending the 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy™ dinner.
Lots of happy happy people giving compliments, apologizing for leaving
before the end of the show – but all simply amazed at the warmth and
cameraderie that was created between the performers and the
audience. Definitely an intimate dinner for almost 600 people!
The show opened with a procession led by a Scots Canadian piper, and a
Chinese – born piper, Joe McDonald and Zhongxi Wu. All the
performers followed their lead. This included Karen Wong, Alex
Chisolm, Carmen Rosen, Tom Chin, LaLa, Dr. Jan Walls, Pat Coventon,
Heather Pawsey, Karen Shumka, Veera devi Khare, Nealamjit Dhillon,
Chris Trinidad, Harry Aoki, Janine Oye, David McIntosh, Max Murphy,
with myself and Shelagh Rogers bringing up the rear. When we got
to the stage, I was amazed how many people were standing there…
We led a singalong into Scotland the Brave, then asked everybody to
stand for O Canada, played on bagpipes, and accompanied by the Indian
doh drum and celtic bodran drum. Very cool!
Working with Shelagh Rogers and Tom Chin as my co-hosts was
amazing. Shelagh is a wonderful, warm and gracious host – even
after she makes gaffs, such as asking my girlfriend “What it is like
living with Todd”
“We don't live together,” was the reply
“Oops,” says Shelagh… as both our parents were in the audience.
Mayor Larry Campbell attended with his wife Enid, the mayor was dressed
in a very lovely red and gold Chinese jacket along with his kilt, as
was I – strange but appropriate for the evening. “I'll be
attending next year, ” he told me, “whether I'm mayor or not.” He
was very complimentary about the performances, citing the rich
multicultural heritage of all our performers on stage for our opening
of “Scotland the Brave.”
“Only in Vancouver, would this happen,” he declared.
Jenny Kwan, MLA for Vancouver Mt. Pleasant, which includes Chinatown,
looked dashing in Joy McPhail's tartan outfit with sash over her
shoulder, as did Joy in a cheong-sam borrowed from Jenny. Along
with the Mayor, Jenny, Joy and co-host Shelagh Rogers, we read the
imortal Robbie Burns poem, “A Man's a Man For A' That and A'
That.” A poem about equality for manking, the whole world
over. Very fitting to be read by politicians who understand that
the real power is in the electorate, and the community activists.
Other city counsellors attending the dinner were Sam Sullivan, Peter
Ladner, Anne Roberts and my favorite – Ellen Woodsworth, whom I sat at
my parents table.
I will describe the performers later, as my mind is still reeling with the
events of the evening. As great as each of the performances are,
the real treat is bringing up members from the audience to introduce
them to the crowd, and ask them to read a verse from “Address to a
Haggis” by Burns. It demonstrates the diversity of our audience
when we can invite Dr. Dennis Law – CEO of the Centre in Vancouver for
Performing Arts, Joseph Roberts – publisher of Common Ground Magazine,
Walter Quan from the BC Arts Council, Rev. Candace Frank from the
Centre for Spiritual Living, Dr. Eni from the Multicultural Society of
BC, Ariadne Sawyer from the World Poetry Society, and Margot Rogers –
Shelagh's sister all on stage with us. It's all about building
community, and recognizing the community that we have.
And of course after familiarizing our audience with Address to a
haggis, since the audience followed the reading of Gaelic English in
the program, as it was read – later in the program performer LaLa and
myself took the Burns Ode up to another level as we turned it into a
rap song. Gie her a haggis! Gie her a haggis! We had
the audience all punching air – an amazing sight.
Listening to Fred Wah read some of his poetry – the audience was
amazingly attentive and not a fork was rattled on the south side of the
Heather Pawsey turned in an amazing performance of the Chinese classic
song “Mo Li Wah” or “Jasmine Flower” while dressed in a Scottish
outfit, she later changed into her beautiful red cheong-sam to sing an
aria from the opera Lucia de Amor in Italian – but was set in
Scotland. Amazing Amazing…
More later… but here is a note from Heather after the show…
Just past midnight, finishing a glass of wine, having toasted you and
another successful Gung Haggis Fat Choy. I hope you finally got a
chance to EAT tonight!
Congratulations. It was a VERY successful evening. The larger venue
worked well, and I know that the friends we had there had a fabulous
time. It never ceases to amaze me how much work you put into this, and
how astonishingly well this crazy mélange of music, cultures and people
works together to make a coherent and beautiful whole. To those who
pooh-pooh the idea of multiculturalism, I say Invite them to Gung
Haggis Fat Choy - they'll change their minds before the haggis is even
Thanks for letting me be a part of this very special evening, and thank
you from Karen also. Gung Haggis has found a very special place in my
Have a good night's sleep!!!