Glendon professor’s new album inspired by China tour

Chongqing, China's Hongyadong Commercial District illuminated by lights at night

Singer-songwriter, violinist, guitarist and retired Glendon Campus ESL Professor Brian Morgan is a multi-talented scholar and musician. Once hailed as the first Canadian to record in China, Morgan has released Curve of the Earth, a new album inspired by his time there in the 1980s.

Brian Morgan close-up portrait
Brian Morgan

Representing Bethune College as an exchange student at the Sichuan Foreign Language Institute (SFLI) in Chongqing, China from 1987 to 1988, Morgan immersed himself in the language and culture of the region while teaching and studying to inform a distinct, inventive sound with his retro rock band Bage Gao Bizi, or Eight High Noses in English.

With a background in ethnomusicology and anthropology – comprising his double-major BA from York – and a passion for the arts from every corner of the globe, Morgan jumped at the chance to live in Chongqing as an English teacher when David Lumsden, former master of Bethune, created the pioneering exchange program with the SFLI.

Featured in the June 1988 issue of The Canadian Composer, which highlighted the originality of Morgan’s work at the time, his single “Lonely Room” was inspired by, and recorded in, Chongqing. Thanks to that track, and regular gigs with Bage Gao Bizi, the uniqueness of Morgan’s songs fostered a fascination in locals. Morgan recalls his performance of the traditional folk song “Jasmine” in Mandarin was always a particular favourite at public events.

Cover of Brian Morgan's Curve of the Earth (2023) depicting the silhouette of a rickshaw driver and their passenger
Curve of the Earth (2023) by Brian Morgan

Curve of the Earth, his latest work released in January, demonstrates Morgan’s affinity for the erhu, a historic Chinese instrument that is held in the lap and played like a large violin.

The album is currently available on Spotify, Amazon Music and YouTube. Morgan’s recent work, with selections from Curve of the Earth, will be on display at upcoming shows at Hirut Restaurant, Feb. 19 from 2 to 5 p.m; and the Winterfolk Blues & Roots Festival, Feb. 24 to 26. Click here for more information on Morgan and his music, and for Winterfolk Festival details and tickets, click here.