ESCONDIDO, Calif.—Brett Sanders, a musician and composer, felt inspired by the Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra when he saw it Dec. 29. “I write music, and so listening to the orchestra and seeing the dancers, I’m thinking ‘Wow! Wow! I have a lot of ideas; it gives me a lot of ideas, a lot of inspiration,” Mr. Sanders said after seeing the New York-based company at California Center for the Arts.
Shen Yun’s orchestra succeeds in combining the typically disparate sounds of East and West, according to the company’s website.
“This is how the effect is achieved: A Western philharmonic orchestra plays the foundation, while traditional Chinese instruments lead the melodies. The sound produced is uniquely pleasing to the ear. The ensemble at once expresses both the grandeur of a Western orchestra and the distinct sensibilities of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization.”
Mr. Sanders appreciated the combination of different instruments that haven’t been paired before, from the dizi, a flute, to the pipa, a lute.
“The sound is more pungent, more striking, and then you put that together with the violins … just gives it a totally different sound, different voice, different flavor or feeling, different mood,” he said.
Just gives it a totally different sound, different voice, different flavor or feeling, different mood.
The use of drums and bells also caught his attention, which combined with the violins “brought a feeling of anticipation and wonder.”
The combinations were “very effective, very unique, quite different, [and] very stimulating,” Mr. Sanders added.
Shen Yun travels around the world with one mission: reviving the 5,000 year old, divinely inspired Chinese culture, according to the company’s website.
“After more than 60 years of communist rule in China, and especially after the Cultural Revolution, Chinese traditional culture has been all but completely demolished. However, the deeper spiritual core of the ancient culture, with its values of benevolence, honor, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the gods and the heavens, cannot be destroyed.”
The tradition interwoven into the performance touched Mr. Sanders.
“You have to know were you are coming from, and so this show lets people know that you have to know were you are coming from, in order to know were you are going,” he said.
The performance showed him the value of a deep cultural heritage. “This show, to me, exemplifies such a firm root, traditional Chinese, the traditional culture,” he said. “It helps me to see the importance of that in every culture, American culture, Japanese culture, whatever it is.”
Shen Yun enhances the dance and music with modern technology, through a range of digital backdrops that harmonize with the other elements.
“The technology, and the dance, and the music all combined were just great! It was beautiful,” said Mr. Sanders.
Accompanying the musician to the performance was his mother, Annie Sanders, a retired civil servant.
Ms. Sanders also said she found the cultural presentation stimulating.
“It helps me to understand that all of us, all of our cultures, our races, our people, we all have our own special ways about us,” she said. “God has created all of us equally, but he also gave us very distinctive gifts and talents, and ways to live, and it all comes together just beautifully, it really does.”
The evening gave her a powerful feeling, she said. “I was thrilled. It wasn’t surprising, it was thrilling. It was nice to be a part of it. The feeling was wonderful. It’s hard to put it all into words. You had to be there to experience it.”
Shen Yun travels the globe and graces the stages of top venues in world cities such as Paris, London, Sydney, New York, Taipei, Tokyo, Toronto and Buenos Aires, yet the company is unable at this time to perform in China.
“It is outside of China that Shen Yun’s artistic creators have the ability to freely express themselves and their ancient culture,” states the company’s website. “Their courage to speak up is an integral part of Shen Yun’s spirit.”
While expressing displeasure at this current state of affairs, Ms. Sanders said that everybody should make sure to see Shen Yun.
“Oh please go! Please go! You have to go! You don’t want to miss it,” she said. “It’s something you do not want to miss! Believe me, I’m so glad I came.”
Reporting by Mandy Huang and Zachary Stieber.
Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will be heading to Escondido for performances at the California Center for the Arts from Dec. 28 to 31.
New York-based Shen Yun has three companies that tour the world each year on a mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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