KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—Mr. Michael Combs, timpanist in the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, found Shen Yun Performing Arts even better than he had imagined. Mr. Combs saw Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company at the Tennessee Theatre on Feb. 12.
“We knew it was going to be good. We knew it was going to be first class, but we did not expect to be so spellbound with that,” Mr. Combs said.
Based in New York, Shen Yun was established in 2006 by a group of classical Chinese artists with the desire to revive the divinely inspired Chinese civilization.
Traveling, and taking the world by storm, Shen Yun’s three large companies tour the world, performing 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture through classical Chinese music and dance—in the worlds’ top venues often with sold-out performances.
“It was amazing! I’m still amazed,” Mr. Combs said. “They didn’t miss a thing. Every note, every piece of music, every nuance choreographed so well with the dancers, it was just unbelievable.”
“I mean what a perfect evening. I’m thinking about buying tickets to come back tomorrow; there was so much to see and it was so wonderful,” he said. Shen Yun has one more night in the Tennessee Theater on Feb. 13. The audience cheered at moments during the performance and often applauded during exciting moments in the dances. The performance closed with a standing ovation.
Mr. Combs has been with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra since 1968, and taught percussion at the University of Tennessee. He was recognized with a Tennessee Arts Academy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mr. Combs said that not only was the dance fantastic, but the Shen Yun Orchestra was “just flawless.”
The Shen Yun Orchestra uses ancient Chinese instruments, like the erhu, the suona and the pipa, to carry the melodies and themes. It is a full Western philharmonic orchestra.
Mr. Combs said that Shen Yun’s digital backdrops made the performance complete perfection. According to Shen Yun’s website, the digital backdrops transport “the audience to a world where heaven and earth are one.”
Mr. Combs thought the male and female dancers were great, and he was moved by the dancers’ heart and focus.
“Each one was different. Each one was spectacular and everything was so well done,” he said.
Mr. Combs was especially impressed with how fine and coordinated the orchestra was at just playing music, but he was even more impressed and amazed with how the orchestra coordinated with dancers.
“It was just fantastic all the way around,” he said. “There has to be something in their heart for them to be so concentrated, so dedicated and produce such a high artistic level. There has to be more than just training,” he said.
Traditional Chinese culture has always placed importance on ones’ inner character and values. According to Shen Yun’s website, “benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution, all come to life, washing over the audience.”
“You can’t just do stuff like that because you’re told to, because it’s a job and you’re making money. There has to be a special, I would say spiritual, pulling to bring those people together like that,” Mr. Combs said.
“That’s exactly what I saw,” said Mr. Combs.
He said he felt there was “so much emotion. Physically, it was fantastic, the movements they can make.” The coordination among the elements of music, choreography astonished him, he said.
“I could see a three minute dance put together but a whole two hour show with that type of artistic level was just unbelievable,” he said.
Mr. Combs sent his best wishes to Shen Yun. “Congratulations to you and to your company and best to you on your tour and here on out. I hope you enjoyed Knoxville,” Mr. Combs said.
Reporting by NTD Television and Kelly Ni.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun will give four shows in Nashville from Feb. 15-17. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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