Shen Yun’s Soprano Astounds Sister Singers

By Matthew Little
Epoch Times Staff
Created: January 20, 2013 Last Updated: January 23, 2013
Related articles: Shen Yun On Tour » Special Section
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Lesley Barry (L) and sister Lynn Himmelman (R) are both accomplished singers and both lauded the talents of Shen Yun soprano Geng Haolan Saturday night, Jan. 19, 2013, at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. (Matthew Little/The Epoch Times)

Lesley Barry (L) and sister Lynn Himmelman (R) are both accomplished singers and both lauded the talents of Shen Yun soprano Geng Haolan Saturday night, Jan. 19, 2013, at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. (Matthew Little/The Epoch Times)

TORONTO—Accomplished singers and sisters Lynn Himmelman and Leslee Barry gushed with praise for soprano Geng Haolan after hearing her sing with Shen Yun Performing Arts Saturday night at the Sony Centre.

Both sisters are accomplished singers with musical histories that include instructing others, and both said Ms. Geng was something special. 

“Fantastic soprano,” said Ms. Barry, who teaches singing in Nova Scotia and directs an often-praised local choir. “She was wonderful, … incredibly dramatic.”

“Yes, indeed,” agreed Ms. Himmelman, a former opera singer who performed with the Edmonton Opera, Hamilton Opera, and Opera East. She also taught singing for 30 years in Toronto and is now the CEO of Life Enhancement Essentials.

“[Ms. Geng] really encompassed the audience with her singing,” Ms. Himmelman added.

Shen Yun performs mainly classical Chinese dance, with the evening performance also including Chinese ethnic and folk dances as well as three bel canto vocal soloists and an erhu virtuoso. 

The fundamental characteristic of Shen Yun’s vocal soloists is their use of bel canto vocal technique while singing Chinese lyrics, states the company’s website.

The website notes that “The singer must grasp the highly difficult technical requirements of bel canto operatic singing while retaining the proper Chinese articulation and diction—today, this is unparalleled.” 

“She reached out with her whole voice, with her whole being, and just really went into me in terms of how she sang,” Ms. Himmelman said of Ms. Geng.

“Sometimes a singer has a special way of really encompassing you with their voice …, and that’s what she was able to do. It takes a special emotion, skill, it’s a whole combination of things.”

Ms. Himmelman said Ms. Geng had a strength of voice that was spectacular. Her sister echoed that praise, saying Ms. Geng had a voice that emanated from her entire body.

“That’s what gives you chills, is when the voice is connected to the body and it’s not pushed,” said Ms. Barry. 

“And that’s what this woman was doing. She was singing with her whole body from head to toe,” added Ms. Himmelman. “It’s really special.”

Orchestra ‘Fabulous to a Fault’

The sisters also enjoyed Shen Yun’s unique orchestra, which includes Chinese instruments leading the melodies.

“We appreciate all of the fantastic music from the orchestra. It was really wonderful,” said Ms. Barry.

“The orchestra was fabulous. Just fabulous to a fault, meaning there was no fault,” said Ms. Himmelman with a laugh.

Each sister said she wished she could have seen the orchestra, which was out of view below eye sight in the orchestra pit.

The sisters talked over each other describing erhu soloist and virtuoso Qi Xiaochun as wonderful and gorgeous.

“I’ve heard that instrument before. I’ve heard it played and she did a fabulous job,” said Ms. Himmelman.

“She did,” agreed her sister.

“And the accompanist was wonderful,” said Ms. Barry of pianist Xin Lian, who played alongside each of the vocal soloists, as well as erhu soloist Ms. Qi.

Costumes ‘Beautiful Eye Candy’

The entire performance was a delight, both sisters said. 

“I thought it was excellent. I love the costuming. It’s beautiful eye candy. I loved the dancing and how beautifully it was choreographed, the intricacies of the dance, and it’s just so graceful and so beyond perfection in terms of the skill of the dancers,” said Ms. Himmelman.

She bought a ticket as a gift for her sister, who had come all the way from Nova Scotia to attend the show and spend some time together.

“I thought it was fantastic. I thought it was a wonderful show,” said Ms. Barry. “Fantastic costuming,” she added.

Of the folk dances presented that night, Ms. Himmelman especially enjoyed The Mongolian Bowl Dance, a traditional dance of welcome.

Ms. Barry agreed, describing it as awesome, but said she enjoyed all the ethnic dances.

Ms. Himmelman said she would definitely recommend the show.

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Following 21 successful shows Dec. 20-Jan. 13 in Mississauga, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Hamilton, Shen Yun’s New York Company finishes its run of five shows in Toronto on Sunday. For more information, visit

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