HAMILTON, Canada—Music is a miracle of sounds and timbres mixing together harmoniously. In ancient China, it was said that when someone is sick, music should be used before medicine to cure the ailment.
“I thought it was beautiful. The orchestra sounded lovely. It was so well-balanced between the music and the dance. It was really a delight to watch,” said Sharon Lee, co-artistic director of the Toronto Concert Orchestra.
Shen Yun Performing Arts has been upholding tradition and pairs a live orchestra with each of its eight dance companies.
“What a spectacular event. All the costumes. So colourful. And the music was beautiful. It was amazing, all around,” said Marcus Scholtes, Ms. Lee’s husband and co-artistic director of the Toronto Concert Orchestra.
After over three years of the pandemic, many people are finally coming out again to experience live entertainment.
“It’s so nice to have live music again and hear it in halls, and such lush sounds and a blend of East and West sounds. It was really spectacular,” said Ms. Lee.
Shen Yun’s orchestra blends a classic Western orchestra and traditional Chinese instruments.
“I thought it worked really nicely. It blended well. It was well-balanced. And it still gave plenty of opportunity for older instruments to shine. So, it was really well written, and very well performed,” said Ms. Lee.
“The musicians were wonderful. I’ve really appreciated the blend of the East and West instruments and how they blend together to make a beautiful sound. So it was a very unique, very unique experience,” added Mr. Scholtes.
Shen Yun’s music is written by the company’s own resident composers. In order for the music to fit the dances perfectly, the composers must work closely with the choreographers.
“The compositions sound like they’re historically informed, and they really evoke that history. The arrangements make all the orchestral instruments shine,” said Ms. Lee.
“The percussion, all the different percussion instruments that really helped drive the tension of the story,” added Mr. Scholtes.
The erhu is a traditional Chinese instrument that dates back to nearly 4,000 years ago. On Shen Yun’s stage, the erhu gets its moment under the spotlight.
“I think that was my favourite. That was the most beautiful program. It’s sentimental. It’s beautiful. It’s romantic. It’s sad. It’s like you have all the emotions in that one instrument. It’s really amazing,” commented Mr. Scholtes.
“My goodness, it’s like a blend of a violin and a human voice. That’s how I heard it. It was really beautiful,” said Ms. Lee.
The erhu only has two strings, but its expressive ability is not hindered. Without a fingerboard as seen on a violin or frets as seen on a guitar, intonation is quite a challenge.
“I love the sound of the erhu, which is so unique and so beautiful. And so, to hear it accompanied by the whole orchestra, it’s quite an experience to hear it live for sure,” said Mr. Scholtes.
“It was beautiful. Really lovely sound, lovely tone, and beautiful phrasing. It felt very soulful. Very heartfelt,” said Ms. Lee.
Shen Yun’s singers are trained in the classical bel canto technique. Although the songs are sung in Chinese, Shen Yun’s digital backdrop allows audiences around the world to understand the text being sung.
“My goodness, the singers are great. They really sang directly from their hearts. When someone sings so much from their heart, you can hear it—it comes right to your heart. So that was really beautiful,” said Ms. Lee.
She added that Shen Yun‘s soprano has a powerful voice.
“It was very helpful to read what they were singing about,” said Mr. Scholtes.
Shen Yun’s dancers are trained in classical Chinese dance. To master this dance form, artists are required to not only learn the fundamentals of the dance but also the culture behind it.
“I think that was a common theme—the divine dancing. It was very obvious. It was a reoccurring theme every time we were supposed to experience the divine, there it was. And it was very well illustrated through dance,” said Ms. Lee.
Many of Shen Yun‘s dances depict the divine helping the pure of heart in their time of need.
“It was those scenes. They were so powerful, especially the dramatic scenes—they were extremely powerful. They grabbed you right from beginning to end—a lot of relevance for today,” said Ms. Lee.
“The divine and the human are so blended. That I felt was very powerful, very beautiful,” she added.
For anyone who is curious about whether to experience Shen Yun, Ms. Lee’s thoughts are: “I would say it is a show definitely worth seeing, at least once. Everyone is curious. Everyone has seen little snippets online, and everyone is curious to see it from beginning to end. And I think it’s a great show.”
Reporting by NTD and Maria Han.
The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of Shen Yun Performing Arts. We have covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.