NEW YORK—Grammy Award-winning jazz bassist Todd Coolman, who has played with the likes of Horace Silver and others, praised Shen Yun Performing Arts opening performance on Wednesday in New York at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater.
“It was wonderful and I enjoyed the mixture of the Asian and the traditional classical instruments,” he said, referring to the dance company’s orchestra. He attended the performance with his wife, Darla.
The Shen Yun Orchestra combines Western and eastern instruments, using both musical traditions. The Western philharmonic orchestra plays the musical foundation while the Chinese instruments lead the individual melodies, the company’s website says.
“It was an entirely new experience for us and it gave us an interesting look at Chinese culture,” said Dr. Coolman, who is currently a professor at SUNY Purchase College in Westchester.
The music accompanies classical Chinese dance performances, which according to Shen Yun, is considered one of the most comprehensive and extensive styles in the world.
“Several of the [dances] were symbolic of many different things so it is hard to isolate any one of them,” Dr. Coolman said. He added that the piece “Lotus Leaves,” in which dancers portray coordinated blooming lotus flowers in spring, struck him.
Shen Yun also features renowned singers who use the bel canto technique. Dr. Coolman called them “fantastic, really.” He added, “[Shen Yun is] really a very multi-faceted program and enjoyable on many different levels.”
At the nucleus of each Shen Yun program is thousands of years of Chinese culture and spirituality, which the company says its reviving. Much of this tradition has been destroyed under six decades of communist rule, the company says.
Mrs. Coolman said, “It was a very wonderful surprise … this was way more than I could ever hope for in terms of a wonderful date with my husband and a wonderful evening.”
Shen Yun boasted “just incredible” performers, she said. “We will definitely come back again.”
Reporting by NTD and Jack Phillips.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world, with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company will next perform in Chicago at the Civic Opera House, April 19-22.
For more information visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org