In a recent article in the latest issue of NYT, Fan Lai or in everyday speech Fanny, speaks about her 25 years as an organist at the Danish seamen’s Church in Hong Kong and her time with the Danish community there.
Chinese Fanny was born in Hong Kong and is a trained pianist who has worked with music all her life. In addition to the Danish Seamen’s Church, she has also played for services for the Swedish congregation, for the Norwegians, and the Germans.
Fanny explains that 25 years ago, Danish church music was completely new to her and not at all reminiscent of the hymns she sang in her Catholic elementary school or her Christian high school.
“Danish hymns are a bit like folk music. They have a touch of something Irish or Scottish about them in my ears. Many are quite nostalgic with a tinge of melancholy. The more you listen, the more you love them,” she says.
Over the years, Fanny has known and collaborated with a large number of Danish priests in Hong Kong including Hans Vestergaard Jensen, Hans Koller Nielsen, Iben Snell, Maria-Louize Helbo, Margith Pedersen, and now Rebecca Holm. Fanny characterizes the Danes as optimistic, open-minded, humorous, and straightforward. “Sometimes someone tries to tell me jokes! But I simply do not understand them,” she says.
“The Danes are also very patriotic and have Dannebrog everywhere at various events and ceremonies,” she adds
Fanny also says that the Danish culture in relation to gender equality fascinates her.
“I have heard of stay-at-home fathers who take their babies to church. Here it is the woman who is in charge of caring for the family. The Danes are also very tolerant of children in public places where they are allowed to crawl around. Chinese parents would have stopped them immediately, even scolded them.”
Denmark is definitely on Fanny’s wish list of places to visit and she has a love for Danish food.
“The other day I bought red sausages and remoulade in the church bazaar. I also try to share my food culture with the Danes. For example, I recently went out to introduce Margith Pedersen and Rebecca Holm to Shanghai cuisine.”
Read the full article here