NEW YORK—Midday sun pierced the autumn chill as Valerie Whitcup and her husband Peter made their way into venerable Carnegie Hall for an uplifting classical performance. The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra was in town.
Mrs. Whitcup played first harp for over 30 years with the Florida Philharmonic, but the Oct. 15 matinee was her first time hearing Shen Yun Orchestra, which “blends the spirit of Chinese music with the power of a Western orchestra,” in the words of its website.
The seamless combination of two grand musical traditions brought her feelings of elation, she said. “It’s a blend of beautiful music that gives you gooseflesh.”
The erhu is a two-stringed ancient Chinese instrument. Its soul-stirring expressiveness was masterfully harnessed by the performers in the piece “Delicate Dance.”
“It sounds like voices from heaven,” Mrs. Whitcup said.
Just as with most of the orchestra’s repertoire, the piece was composed specifically for the ensemble.
Shen Yun composers “draw upon five millennia of culture and legends” and tailor their pieces so that “Western strings, percussion, woodwinds, and brass accentuate the sound of ancient Chinese instruments—like the two-stringed erhu and the plucked pipa,” its website states.
The performance also included Western classics such as Dvořák’s “Slavonic Dance,” Op. 46 No. 8 and Saint-Saëns’s “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.”
Mrs. Whitcup praised Shen Yun Orchestra’s cultural merging. For her, it was not just a matter of artistic mastery, but symbolic power.
“I think this is the kind of music the world needs,” she said. “Brotherhood on the stage.”
Reporting by Joshua Philipp and Petr Svab
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.