NEW YORK—Whether hearing symphonic music for the first time or coming as a seasoned professional, Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra, in bringing its unique mixture of Western and Chinese instruments, appeals to both types of audience members.
Beginning the second leg of its tour, Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra appeared at New York’s Carnegie on Oct. 15 for a matinee and evening performance. Among the evening attendees was Jasun Martz, who has 40 years’ experience as a composer, performer, and producer. He has played with the likes of Michael Jackson and Frank Zappa, has composed contemporary classical pieces, and has toured the world, including Russia, China, Korea, Italy, and Argentina.
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra has been touring, too, and just returned from its first Asian tour. It only began touring on its own in 2012. Prior to that time it could be heard as it accompanied Shen Yun Performing Arts, a classical Chinese dance company with the mission to restore traditional Chinese culture.
“I love classical music,” Mr. Martz said. “I thought this performance was very, very strong. I like the blend of East and West.”
According to its website, Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra offers a new frontier in classical music by using a Western orchestra as its foundation and then adding soul-stirring melodies from the ancient Middle Kingdom.
Sharing his expertise, Mr. Martz said, “I’ve composed for exotic instruments—Korean instruments and Western instruments—very difficult. And this was very admirable, very well-done.”
In singling out percussionists as particularly fine, he felt that others in the audience were captivated by the percussion instruments, too.
And then, considering others in the audience, he felt that seeing this orchestra perform must be very stirring for the Chinese attendees: “Everybody was so proud of this orchestra. I get goosebumps from it.”
On the other end of the spectrum as far as musical expertise is concerned, was Nihan Chiquinquira, program manager for Nature’s Bounty, who had never attended a symphony concert before.
“I’m just trying to hold all my feelings together,” she said, thrilled and a bit overwhelmed as well.
To see the traditional Western instruments side by side with Chinese ones impressed her. She was seeing Western violins, cellos, and violas next to the ancient two-stringed Chinese erhu and the plucked pipa.
“I just can’t take my eyes off them, I’m just trying to catch every single one of them,” she said of the whole orchestra.
Her husband, Alvaro Chiquinquira, who had presented his wife with the tickets as a gift, understood the difficulty of combining the two culture’s sounds to create its original compositions.
But probably what most impressed him was the classical violinist, for in addition to the original music based on Chinese melodies and scales, Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra highlights some Western classics.
Mr. Chiquinquira was very impressed with violinist Fiona Zheng, who led the orchestra in “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso,” by Camille Saint-Saëns.
“She was very emotional,” he said. “You can tell she’s really connected with the music,” and in the way she played, he felt she fully embraced the orchestra.
Ms. Chiquinquira, who is expecting a child, felt the performance was magical. She was really hoping her baby was appreciating what she was hearing: “Hey, listen to this! Good!” she said, wanting another first-time listener to enjoy the experience and get as much out of it as she was.
Or as Mr. Martz had said, “This orchestra is very strong. … And to see them in Carnegie Hall, wow, that’s special.”
Reporting by Frank Liang and Sharon Kilarski
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.