TORONTO—Roy Thomson Hall played host to a captivating concert on Oct. 23 that had audience members enthralled by its unique and inspiring blend of the sounds and instruments of the East and West.
The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra, consisting of musicians from the renowned New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts classical Chinese dance company, uses a Western symphony orchestra to present and revive the authentic traditions of China by interpreting Chinese musical styles on Western instruments.
It received standing ovations and did not finish the afternoon performance until after two curtain calls and three encores.
A common sentiment expressed by concertgoers was that music is a universal language that transcends all boundaries.
“Music transcends everything,” said businessman Peter Cullen, who had also attended the orchestra performance last year. “This year was excellent again,” he said. “Just sitting here and saying to myself again this year that it’s very, very pleasant to come here.”
“It’s a very distinctive sound. It’s a little bit different than what we get typically in Toronto. It culturally … has a different feel,” noted Mr. Cullen, a board member of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Association of Canada and also former chair of the Royal Horse Show. The winter fair, known as “the Royal,” takes place every November in Toronto and is the world’s largest combined indoor agricultural fair and international equestrian competition.
Mr. Cullen also commended the timing, demeanour, and presentation of conductor Milen Nachev and the professionalism of all of the musicians.
“The memories were good from last year, they were good from this year,” he said. “It’s just consistent, it’s very flowing, it’s very relaxing. People are great. Professional, excellent musicians. It’s very incredible.”
He added that he would also like to attend the Shen Yun Performing Arts classical Chinese dance performance next February-March when it performs in Toronto at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
‘International language we can feel and enjoy’
Liliana Tojcic, who is of Serbian heritage, has performed folk dance in Belgrade and Canada and also taught children and youth to become future excellent performers.
“I love this blend of Western and Eastern music; this is fantastic for [the] ears,” she said, commenting that Chinese instruments are very gentle.
“I think it’s very nice, like going to different intonations. Tones are different, from slower to faster and silent. Chinese instruments are fantastic.”
She also enjoyed the flow of the performance and the energy it conveyed.
“I see beautiful flow, togetherness, that everybody can feel it with their heart. Music is, I think, the international language that we can feel and enjoy,” Ms. Tojcic said.
“It’s also I think coming from your heart and how you feel it, and then you can feel that energy—beautiful. It’s like you’re flying. You’re really into beautiful mood and swings. Fantastic.”
‘It’s very inspiring when I’m thinking of composing and writing’
Also in the audience was professional bass player Glenn Gyorffy, a former member of the legendary Canadian heavy metal band Anvil. The band was the subject of the acclaimed documentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” released in 2008.
He is more used to rock and roll, said Mr. Gyorffy, but he added that he finds inspiration whenever he hears any music. He spoke about his enjoyment of the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s East-West fusion and its use of the different Eastern and Western instruments.
“It’s very impressive. I’m here a lot to see the TSO (Toronto Symphony Orchestra) and this is another treat for me,” he said. “I hear the Western influence meeting with the Eastern. It’s very nice. … It’s very inspiring when I’m thinking of composing and writing.”
He was especially impressed with the performances of violin soloist Fiona Zheng and tenor Tian Ge, saying they were “fantastic.”
Ms. Zheng performed “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” by Camille Saint-Saëns, a piece widely regarded as a hallmark of violin virtuosity, while tenor Tian Ge sang a piece titled “Life is Fleeting,” containing philosophical reflection about life.
‘It’s definitely something which moves you’
Paul Straatman, owner of a Toronto accounting firm, attended the concert with his friend Shane Toland, also an accountant.
“We’re avid TSO fans,” Mr. Straatman said, noting that Shen Yun’s great mix of Asian and Western culture was “a wonderful opportunity to expose yourself to some great symphonic music.”
He added that “it’s definitely something which moves you. I think some of the pieces can really touch you on a very emotional level.”
Like Mr. Gyorffy, Mr. Straatman remarked on how impressed he was by the performance of tenor Tian Ge.
“He has such powerful vocals. And I thought it was a very moving piece, it just sort of was a wonderful, uplifting piece. I thought it was really excellent.”
Solo vocal pieces are an integral part of a Shen Yun performance, and audience members have expressed that Shen Yun’s vocal pieces are reminiscent of sacred music.
“It’s very uplifting and I’d like to see more,” said Mr. Toland. “It’s a very happy feeling. It’s a wonderful experience. So therefore it really makes the whole experience worthwhile. It’s just the icing on the cake as we say.”
Reporting by NTD Television, Dongyu Teng, and Cindy Chan
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.