MISSISSAUGA, Canada—Mark McLay and his daughter, Sara, who both share a love of music, were among the sold-out audience at the Living Arts Centre on Friday night taking in an evening of spectacular classical Chinese dance and music.
“So colourful, very musical, quite enjoyable, and uplifting to the spirit as well,” said Mr. McLay, founder of recording studio Velvet Sound Studios in Mississauga.
Mr. McLay also composes for film and television, plays guitar in two bands, and has taught at Humber College and Harris Institute for the Arts.
“Loved it, loved all the music,” he added, noting that the Shen Yun Orchestra’s inclusion of Western and Chinese musical traditions was a “beautiful combination.”
The orchestra of the acclaimed New York-based company takes a Western symphony as its base with Chinese instruments leading the melodies, producing a distinct new sound, as explained on the Shen Yun website.
“Very well integrated,” said Mr. McLay.
Shen Yun was founded in 2006 by a group of leading classical artists with a mission of reviving China’s divinely inspired culture of 5,000 years through excellence in the performing arts.
Another hallmark of the company’s productions is the vocal soloists’ use of bel canto operatic technique to sing Chinese lyrics.
“I thought it was absolutely amazing,” Sara, a vocal major, said of the performance.
Being a singer herself, Sara said soprano Guang Ling especially stood out for her.
“The soprano singer was amazing, really good,” she said.
Through its vivid presentation of dance, music, and storytelling, Shen Yun introduces viewers to the spiritual essence of traditional Chinese culture, conveying themes such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution.
What impressed Mr. McLay the most was learning about the history of China through the arts.
“The way they integrated the colours and choreography into the performance takes the viewers onto a journey off their day-to-day life, to go back to review centuries of historical Chinese culture.”
“It was a very beautifully portrayed version of history through art, dance, music. It was wonderful to learn through artistic forms,” he said.
“To be able to come out and show so many centuries of culture, I think that’s just a wonderful thing,” he added. “I see a free spirit. Because we all want to be that way, have a little free spirit.”
“Very uplifting,” said Mr. McLay. “I think the word would be—enchanting.”
With reporting by Quincy Yu and Cindy Chan
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s World Company will give four sold-out performances in Mississauga before heading to Toronto on Jan. 23. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org