The lights dance every night at 8 p.m. They bounce to the rhythm of symphonic music, meticulously programmed. Forming patterns like zig-zags and swirls, the colourful lights decorate the exterior of skyscrapers that line the shore of Hong Kong Island. On arpeggios they run up and down the buildings, showing off their agility. Search lights and lasers shine on tonic chords and erratically follow the baseline notes. It’s a drama that only lights and sounds can create.
The Symphony of Lights is a Guinness World Records light show at Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. Although Emily Tin is seeing it for the first time in person—she feels right at home. The scenery is familiar. Victoria Harbour is the backdrop to a scene out of “Mysteries of Love” (談情說案), a Cantonese television show from 2010.
The TV show is one of many that Emily has watched since she was a child. While she was born and raised in Canada, she grew up in a home where her immigrant parents continued to consume media funneled from their motherland—Hong Kong.
A tradition rooted in heritage
TVB dramas—mini-series produced by Television Broadcasts Limited in Hong Kong—have always been a big part of Emily’s life.
“It’s like an every night tradition. We usually just watch whatever’s on TV,” says Emily. What she means by TV is the Fairchild channel, a Chinese-language broadcast in Canada that is co-owned by TVB.
With chopsticks and main dishes laid out on their dinner table, Emily’s family watch the nightly local news reported in Cantonese. Prime time TV follows—featuring two dramas running from 8 to 10 p.m., one hour each. The dramas are entirely overseas content from TVB. Even though Emily has moved out of Thornhill, Ont. to study music education at Western University, watching TVB dramas continues to be part of her routine.