Detroit Symphony Orchestra Musician Says Everyone Should See Shen Yun

‘There’s no other show like this’

Epoch Times Staff
Created: January 25, 2013 Last Updated: January 26, 2013
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Professional musician Doug Cornelsen attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Detroit Opera House, on Jan. 24. Of the Shen Yun Orchestra's performance he said, “It's a fascinating blend of sounds.” (Courtesy of NTD Television)

Professional musician Doug Cornelsen attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Detroit Opera House, on Jan. 24. Of the Shen Yun Orchestra's performance he said, “It's a fascinating blend of sounds.” (Courtesy of NTD Television)

DETROIT—Doug Cornelsen has played the clarinet with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for over 40 years and attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Detroit Opera House on Jan. 24. “I am absolutely enjoying the orchestra—it’s a fabulous orchestra,” Mr. Cornelsen said. He would like to tell everyone in the world to see Shen Yun.

Based in New York, Shen Yun presents 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture through classical Chinese dance and music. The orchestra uniquely blends the East and West, as Chinese instruments lead the melodies over a full Western orchestra.

Mr. Cornelsen, a professional musician, with an extensive background in music,once performed as a member of the United States Marine Band and the White House Orchestra in Washington, D.C. He later played as an extra with the Cincinnati Symphony, and has taught at Oakland University since 1972, is a founding member of the Detroit Chamber & Strings, and serves in the office of vice-president for the Detroit Federation of Musicians, where he writes a column called “Symphony Corner” for the quarterly newsletter.

He said that he noticed The Shen Yun Orchestra had “two wonderful clarinet players in the orchestra.”

He liked how the composers combined the traditional and ancient Chinese instruments, like the pipa, and erhu, sometimes called the two-stringed Chinese violin, with the classical style of the Western orchestra full of strings, percussion, woodwinds, and brass instruments.

“It’s a very, very skillful blend of traditional and ethnic orchestral instruments with modern orchestral instruments,” Mr. Cornelsen said.

“I noticed the list of composers in the program have done a wonderful job of combining these two elements in music; the classical and the traditional ethnic instruments,” he said. “It’s a fascinating blend of sounds.”

Mr. Cornelsen also noticed how Shen Yun composers “put them together in a way that is able to be choreographed very well with the dancers.”

While classical Chinese dance is at the core of the performance, various ethnic and folk dances from China’s vast regions are incorporated, too.

Mr. Cornelsen said that the Shen Yun dancers are fabulous and that it is a wonderful performance.

“I think everyone should see it because ethnic music, ethnic art, and ethnic dancing is becoming more and more rare in the world. It is so fabulous to see an absolutely top-notch presentation of ethnic art. It’s really wonderful,” Mr. Cornelsen said.

“I think it’s fabulous,” he said.

“I also liked the way the show concentrates on the values of humanity, peace, and cooperation,” Mr. Cornelsen said.

Shen Yun came together in 2006 when a group of classical Chinese artists had the desire to revive the almost lost traditional Chinese culture. Due to 60 plus year of communist rule in China, the virtues of the ancient culture, like benevolence, trustworthiness, and propriety, where nearly destroyed. Shen Yun’s mission is to revive the true Chinese culture.

Mr. Cornelsen said that Shen Yun presents “very good values and very good thoughts.”

When the arts of a society is healthy, our society is healthy.

—Shen Yun Program

A line in the Shen Yun program book struck him. He quoted from the program book, “When the arts of a society is healthy, our society is healthy.”

“I think that’s an expression that comes off very well with this show,” Mr. Cornelsen said.

Seeing many musical productions and dance production throughout the years, and then attending Shen Yun, Mr. Cornelsen said that anybody who has seen as many productions as he has, realizes that Shen Yun is at “a very high level.”

“The dancers, the musicians, obviously, the stage directors have a very high level of professional attainment,” he said.

“If you look at the biography of the artist in the program, you see that they are very, highly trained, and very skillful,” he said.

Mr. Cornelsen said that Shen Yun’s digital backdrops are one of the nicest things about the show and that he has never seen a digital backdrop like Shen Yun’s before.

The combination made a very stunning presentation, he said. “Don’t miss this show—don’t miss it,” Mr. Cornelsen said. “It’s unique. There is no other show like this and it’s a wonderful presentation. I would say don’t miss it!” he said, during intermission.

Reporting by NTD Television and Kelly Ni.

Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will perform at the Detroit Opera House through to Jan. 27. For more information, visit

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