Violin Virtuoso and Professor Impressed with Shen Yun Orchestra

Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 17, 2013 Last Updated: February 17, 2013
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Violin professor Charles Castleman at the Shen Yun Performing Arts performance at the Rochester Auditorium Theatre on Feb. 16, 2013. (Courtesy of NTD Television)

Violin professor Charles Castleman at the Shen Yun Performing Arts performance at the Rochester Auditorium Theatre on Feb. 16, 2013. (Courtesy of NTD Television)

ROCHESTER, NY—Violin virtuoso Charles Castleman said he had not seen any performance like Shen Yun before, after watching the classical Chinese dance and music company perform at the Rochester Auditorium Theatre on Saturday evening. 

“I enjoyed it thoroughly. I’ve never had quite an experience like it and I think it was just wonderful,” Mr. Castleman said, who has been a professor of violin at the Eastman School of Music since 1975. 

“The show is spectacular, it’s a wonderful show. The dancers are amazing, the singers are excellent.”

Based in New York, Shen Yun presents classical Chinese dance, an ancient art form with a history dating back thousands of years. The company also features an orchestra that combines traditional Chinese instruments with a Western symphony orchestra, producing a fresh new sound.

Shen Yun boasts award-winning bel canto vocalists, state-of-the art animated digital backdrops, and hundreds of handmade colorful costumes as well. 

Mr. Castleman praised the solo performance of the two-stringed violin-like Chinese instrument, the erhu, by Shen Yun artist Xiaochun Qi. 

“[That] was really wonderful,” he said.

He said he enjoyed the backdrops and the costumes as well. “I was particularly impressed with the effects of when they used the backdrop … and the costumes were just beautiful.” 

Throughout his long career, Mr. Castleman has been a soloist with a number of prominent orchestras including those of Philadelphia, Boston, Brisbane, New York, and Shanghai, just to name a few. 

He is also the founder and director of the Castleman Quartet Program, which offers intensive workshops in solo and chamber performance. 

Mr. Castleman said he was interested in incorporating some of the music he heard performed by the Shen Yun Orchestra into his own work. 

“I’d be interested in having some part playing some of this music or trying some of it myself, because that’s what I do, so therefore when I see something like this, I’m very interested in incorporating into what I like to do,” he said.

Formed by a group of classical Chinese artists, Shen Yun has taken it as its mission to revive the true, divinely inspired culture of China, which has been co-opted and persecuted by the Chinese communist regime over the past 60 years, according to the Shen Yun website. 

Mr. Castleman said the performance gave him a meaningful brief look into Chinese culture. 

“I think this gives us an important glimpse into what the [Chinese] culture really is,” he said. 

“I’ve just become familiar with a whole different kind of art form that I wouldn’t have known before. … It was quite a remarkable experience.”

“The show is beautifully put together,” Mr. Castleman said. “I’m very impressed.”

Reporting by NTD Television and Omid Ghoreishi

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun will be in Rochester for one more show on Sunday, Feb. 17. For more information,

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