Composer ‘Loves the Orchestration’ of Shen Yun’s Music

January 25, 2015

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—”I can’t say enough good things about the music,” said composer and musicologist Daniel Robbins after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts on the evening of Jan. 24 at the Dolby Theatre.

“The music is very refreshing because it’s aimed for the mass media, but it’s not pop music,” said Mr. Robbins. “It’s classically oriented and I love the orchestration and the performance of the orchestra. I like everything about it.”

The Shen Yun Orchestra is distinct, however, in its combination of both Eastern and Western instruments and styles. This aspect especially drew Mr. Robbins to the music.

“To me it sounds like it’s a crossover, it’s a really good crossover, because it’s symphonically oriented, but it still uses, which I assume must be Asian instruments,” he said.

“It’s what they call a synthesis,” he said of the music, “where these sounds are incorporated along with the Western symphony orchestra, and done very well, and un-self-consciously. You don’t see where one culture ends and the other starts.”

Mr. Robbins explained how he developed a taste for Asian-influenced music while studying under famous film composer Miklós Rózsa, who won three Oscars, including for the score of Ben-Hur. Mr. Robbins has since orchestrated many of those film scores for new recordings.

Beyond the composition, Mr. Robbins also relayed how he appreciated the actual performance of the music.

The dance also captivated Mr. Robbins.

The dancers are stupendous, just stupendous.
— Daniel Robbins
“The choreography is pretty much breathtaking,” he said. “The dancers are stupendous, just stupendous.”

The dance style in Shen Yun is classical Chinese dance, which has been passed down and developed over millennia, becoming one of the most comprehensive schools of dance in the world, alongside ballet.

He said the dance had “meaningful choreography, where the movements stand for something that the audience can identify with emotionally, but at the same time, like really energetic and powerful, powerfully energetic.”

“It’s new for me,” he said, of classical Chinese dance, “the choreography especially is new for me, but I love it. It’s like there’s nothing not to like—there’s everything to like.”

Shen Yun puts dance, music, and a digital backdrop together to bring to life stories and legends from China’s 5,000 years of history.

One dance stood out for Mr. Robbins, where the choreography was especially powerful.

“There was even a moment, the still frame, where they froze at the end,” he said, “and I looked at the position that the male dancers had frozen in, and even that was powerful, and they weren’t even moving.”

Mr. Robbins said Shen Yun fulfilled an ideal, in that it is “all-connected with regards to art, not only the East and West, but with regards to all facets of performing art, choreography, expression acting, music, orchestration.”

I wouldn’t mind writing for them!
— Daniel Robbins
And, on a more personal note, Mr. Robbins showed how much he enjoyed Shen Yun: “I wouldn’t mind writing for them!”

Reporting by Yiyuan Chang and Ben Bendig

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit

Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.