BOSTON—It is usually patients who take up advice from their doctors. But on Friday night at the Boston Symphony Hall, Dr. Matt Butler was the beneficiary, when he found himself happy that he had taken up a suggestion from his patient to attend Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s performance in Boston.
“I knew this was going to be so unique to hear music that has [a history of] thousands of years, that this was the opportunity,” said Dr. Butler. “And it was everything I thought it would be; it was awesome.”
Dr. Butler, a podiatrist, said a Chinese patient told him about the performance—how the music was emotional and powerful—and he said he checked up the company’s website and watched several video reviews and decided to buy tickets for his wife, son, and himself. He added that he decided he wanted to have his son enjoy his first symphony orchestra by seeing Shen Yun.
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra, headquartered in New York, is one-of-a-kind given its combination of two musical traditions from the East and the West, with classical Chinese instruments, including erhu and pipa, lead the melody while a Western orchestra serves as the foundation.
Dr. Butler explained that the final piece of the performance, the “Divine Compassion”, really stood out to him. He said “I felt like [taking in] the Chinese history and culture and everything, like it is a crescendo.”
“I almost wanted to cry at some points. It was just so beautiful,” added Dr. Butler, who said that he had wished that he could see the artistic director in person, so he could better know how the director put everything together.
Additionally, all Shen Yun musicians were unbelievable, said Dr. Butler, who said he took turns to see the different sections in the orchestra—the wind instruments, the string instruments, and the percussion—and he said he couldn’t take his eyes off whatever he was looking at. What was even better, according to Dr. Butler, was when three erhu virtuosos were featured in the piece “Delicate Dance.”
“That was beautiful,” said Dr. Butler, who explained that he found the ancient two-stringed instrument very amazing.
Erhu, also known as Chinese violin, has a history of 4,000 years. The instrument, given its ability to mimic human voice, can convey a wealth of feelings, from grief, joy, to ire.
Another traditional Chinese instrument, the pipa, also caught the attention of Dr. Butler. In traditional Chinese culture, the pipa was considered to be the king of all Chinese folk instruments. “That was amazing, that was like magical … unbelievable. It evokes such emotions; I love it.”
He was equally amazed when he saw the Shen Yun vocalists—who made up an integral part of the performance with their mission to bring back a lost singing technique, the authentic bel canto technique to sing Chinese lyrics. In his words, everything about the tenor, Tian Ge, left Dr. Butler full of praise.
“I just felt like, how much emotion he was able to put in his voice, and the control of his voice, and how it crescendoed at the end,” said Dr. Butler. “That was unbelievable. I really enjoyed that.”
When he learned that the orchestra would work side by side with Shen Yun’s flagship dance company, Dr. Butler said it would also be great to see the the two working together.
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is part of the New York-based classical Chinese dance and music company Shen Yun Performing Arts. After the tour of the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra concludes its 2016 tour with performances in Washington, D.C., Toronto, and Chicago, Shen Yun Performing Arts will start its 2017 season world tour in December, bringing audiences its unique performances of classical Chinese dance.
For Dr. Butler’s wife, Maria, the symphony orchestra also created a memorable experience.
“I just have one word: magical. That is the only thing I can say—just magical … awesome.”
Reporting by Sophia Zheng and Frank Fang
New York-based Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra comprises musicians from the four Shen Yun Performing Arts touring companies. For information about the October performances, visit: ShenYun.com/Symphony
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.