Former Orchestra Director Praises Shen Yun’s Orchestra

NEW YORK—Diane Flagello, who directed the pre-college division at the Manhattan School of Music for 25 years, was glad she experienced Shen Yun Performing Arts on Apr. 21.

“I absolutely loved it,” said Ms. Flagello, who also directs children’s orchestras. “I see that one of the musicians [in Shen Yun] was a winner of our competition at the Manhattan School of Music.”

That would be violinist Yo-yo Fan, who won the school’s Preparatory Division Concerto Competition. Many dancers and musicians that are part of New York-based Shen Yun are winners of multiple competitions.

Ms. Flagello herself had an illustrious career. The Manhattan School of Music, which serves students from 44 states and 47 countries, created a scholarship in honor of her that is awarded annually.

After seeing Shen Yun at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, Ms. Flagello said that the music in the performance especially appealed to her.

“What I enjoyed about the music was how the composers were able to put together Western music and Chinese cultural music—how they were able to blend the music together was quite extraordinary and the composers are to be congratulated,” she said.

Shen Yun’s composers bring together two distinct schools of music.

“The ensemble at once expresses both the grandeur of a Western orchestra and the distinct sensibilities of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization,” the Shen Yun website states.

Ms. Flagello was particularly struck by the erhu and pipa players. These two instruments are almost as old as the 5,000 year old culture itself, and contribute to the unique sound of Shen Yun’s orchestra. For instance, the erhu, a two-stringed violin, is capable of imitating sounds from chirping birds to neighing horses.

“An alto instrument with a middle-high musical range, its melodies can be tender or sonorous,” according to Shen Yun’s website. “In its lowest and middle range, the erhu is especially stirring and somber, a quality especially suitable for conveying the grand pageant of China’s history and the emotions of its people.”

At one point during the performance, Xiaochun Qi performed an erhu solo titled “Sacred Destiny.”

“So beautiful,” said Ms. Flagello. “I felt it in my heart.”

“I felt so warm,” she added. “I felt so elated.”

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit

Shen Yun Performing Arts is performing at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center through April 28.

The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.