SAN FRANCISCO—Some of musician Steven Halpern’s earliest inspirations as an artist came from ancient Chinese tradition, so after watching Shen Yun Performing Arts, Mr. Halpern said he felt delighted.
Mr. Halpern is an award-winning musician, dubbed the founding father of healing music. Early on in his life, Mr. Halpern had learned about the connection between music and healing and meditation, which resonated with him even as a child. “I always felt attracted to ancient China,” Mr. Halpern said, and so New York-based Shen Yun’s production deeply touched him.
Shen Yun, established in 2006, has been touring internationally for eight years, reviving 5,000 years of Chinese civilization through the universal languages of music and dance. Said to be inspired by the heavens, traditional Chinese culture was once almost lost under the current regime in China.
“Ancient China really treasured and honored its musicians, not just as entertainment but as a spiritual discipline to connect with the divine,” Mr. Halpern said. “To see that here and to read it in this script of the translation [of lyrics], very inspiring. I was very happy to see that.”
Along with a full symphony orchestra blending in traditional Chinese instruments, Shen Yun’s solo vocalists also blend East and West, employing the bel canto style while they sing original Chinese compositions.
“We don’t get taught that music can be a source of connection to higher levels and our creator. And that has been the focus of my life and my own recordings,” Mr. Halpern said.
Ancient China valued principles such as benevolence, justice, wisdom, and propriety—teachings found in Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. These beliefs have been suppressed in modern China, as Mr. Halpern noted, but were found throughout Shen Yun’s music.
“It’s always been very inspiring to me,” Mr. Halpern said. “I naturally knew and felt that.”
Beyond the orchestra and vocalists, Mr. Halpern was still impressed.
“The production—with the colors, and the flowing robes and everything—really is a wonderful event,” Mr. Halpern said. “It’s a spectacle, it’s inspirational, and it’s just a visual feast and a musical feast.”
As a musician himself, Mr. Halpern was touched by the artists’ work and wanted to salute them for their commitment to keeping the traditions alive. They play so well that for audience members new to Chinese music, Mr. Halpern said, it had been a great introduction.
“You can’t do this without being dedicated, so I honor that dedication,” Mr. Halpern said.
Reporting by NTD Television and Catherine Yang
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
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.