Composer Marvels at Beauty of Shen Yun Orchestra Instrumentation

January 10, 2014 Updated: January 10, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO—Composer Cameron Gerhold was taken by the unique sound of the orchestra he heard while watching Shen Yun Performing Arts at the War Memorial Opera House on Jan. 9.

Having focused his studies in ethnomusicology, Mr. Gerhold was intrigued by the mixing of traditional Chinese instruments—like the pipa and suona—into a full Western orchestra.

“The music was beautiful,” said Mr. Gerhold, marveling at the implementation of both East and West in the instrumentation, which no other orchestra has succeeded in on a large scale. “I find it very interesting.

Mr. Gerhold, who has had his works performed by ensembles like the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Symphonic Band, appreciated Shen Yun’s take on the classical, as it is something he focuses on in his own work. As a composer, Mr. Gerhold is always trying to look back at the Classical masters and incorporate their techniques.

Shen Yun Orchestra, which combines the grandeur of a Western symphony with thousands of years of Chinese history, is able to harmonize the instruments by preserving the innate qualities of the instruments from both cultures.

New York-based Shen Yun was established in 2006 by artists from around the world to revive 5,000 years of Chinese civilization through the performing arts.

The history had been a highlight for Mr. Gerhold as well, who said the use of Shen Yun’s mini-dramas throughout had been very unique.

“A lot of these stories have a very long history,” Mr. Gerhold said. Though they were legends unfamiliar to him, Mr.Gerhold said Shen Yun told an entertaining version that gave him a glimpse into the culture.

Mr. Gerhold was impressed with the artistry of the production as well, which included a digital background showing scenes from celestial palaces to China’s many landscapes.

“The underwater scene was very captivating for me,” Mr. Gerhold said of a scene in the story of Ne Zha. “I love the colors. The colors seem to be very well coordinated, especially with the screens, the dancers themselves. Very well coordinated.”

Reporting by Flora Qu and Catherine Yang

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

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