WASHINGTON D.C.—The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra brought stirring music from the East and West to classical music aficionados at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts at a Sunday matinee, Oct. 12.
Steven Phillips is a news editor for Reuters on the TV desk, who said in a deprecating way, “I have absolutely no musical talent—better that way, I think.”
But Mr. Phillips, who calls himself “a news guy,” deeply appreciates classical music, and said it was “relevant.” He said he found the Shen Yun orchestra’s concert “exhilarating,” which he repeated several times in the interview.
“What a great, great show. Fantastic venue. Who could not love coming to the Kennedy Center to see such a talented group of musicians … I’m just a fan.”
Mr. Phillips singled out a great favorite among opera goers, the popular aria, “Nessun dorma,” the signature aria of the late Luciano Pavarotti. “I love opera. So, hearing the section from [the opera] Turandot was so exhilarating to me,” he said.
Mr. Phillips praised the vocalist, the tenor Tian Ge, as “gifted.” Mr. Ge has won several competitive musical awards and sung lead roles in operas such as Madame Butterfly and Rigoletto.
Other Western compositions in the concert were pieces by Hector Berlioz, Antonín Dvořák, Mikhail Glinka, and American composer Leroy Anderson.
Mr. Phillips said he was also moved by the Chinese music piece, “Snow Melts Away,” in which Shen Yun composers deftly combined Chinese and Western instruments.
“I’m not quite sure what instrument the young ladies are playing, but it’s so endearing. It captures your heart. I just loved it,” he said.
The instrument that captured Mr. Phillips heart was the 4,000-year-old erhu, sometimes called the Chinese violin. It is a two-stringed bowed instrument that has a haunting sound, which resonates in a deep soulful, unforgettable way.
The orchestra that played at the Kennedy Center had three erhu instrumentalists in the orchestra. For this particular piece, “Sorrow Melts Away,” the three lovely erhu soloists came to the front of the stage so that the audience could better appreciate its distinct sound and see the soloists play their ancient instruments. “Sorrow Melts Away” shows well the contrasts between the Chinese stringed erhu and the Western strings; yet at the same time, the two traditions of string instruments from East and West were wonderfully integrated into a unified sound.
Reporting from Gary Feuerberg and NTD Television
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is on a seven-city tour with performances in Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Toronto, Chicago, Miami, and Sarasota, through Oct. 27. For more information, visit www.shenyun.com/symphony