ESCONDIDO, Calif.—Music stirs the soul, and great music can lift us to new vantage points on life. A touring company that is reviving China’s profound traditional culture through music and dance, Shen Yun Performing Arts, graced the stage of the California Center for the Arts on Jan. 19, 2020, and deeply touched professional musicians in the audience with its transformative power.
Shen Yun’s Singers Are ‘as close as you can get to being an angel in a body’
Singer-songwriter Kris Miller couldn’t hold back her tears while describing the feelings she experienced while watching and listening to New York-based Shen Yun. She cried as she spoke.
“Oh, I love it. I start crying because… it’s in my soul. It’s ancient. So when I heard it I start to flood with tears of joy because when I was young, I wanted to play that kind of instrument. But I couldn’t find any around. I tried to make one but it didn’t work.
“Shen Yun’s music is very touching; it went right to my heart. It’s bringing the heart and the mind together and it is a soulful sound,” she said.
Each year, Shen Yun’s artistic director composes the show’s original score that uniquely employs Chinese instruments and melodies in a way that is familiar to Western audiences’ ears, but contains China’s rich emotional expressiveness.
“I’ve always been attracted to that style of music,” Miller said, who plays the guitar, the dulcimer, and sings a capella. “In fact, I can play that kind scale in my mind. It’s been intuitive for me. I’m so impressed because they’re bringing in the spirit and the divine inside of the music, as my heart. So seeing the movement inside of the sound just hits the mark. It brings the heart and the mind together in a beautiful presentation.”
Shen Yun’s mission is to revive China’s 5,000 years of traditional culture, especially the deep spirituality that once comprised its essence. That’s why a Shen Yun show contains storytelling dances that depict legends about heavenly beings descending to earth and the belief that one day the Creator will return for all mankind. In addition, Shen Yun performers themselves carry on a tradition of spiritual practice through the form of Falun Dafa, which includes meditation and teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
Miller resonated with this aspect of the show and drew parallels to her own experience and beliefs.
“The singers were amazing. The voices, they are celestial. It’s as close as you can get to being an angel in a body. And the beautiful images of singing and what was happening is really cryptic to where we are at on this planet. Because the old is going out and the new is being made new. And God is coming to earth, and it’s just gorgeous,” she said.
“I love the story [about heavenly beings coming to earth] because it’s an archetype. It just like the Bible, right? Coming through the clouds and all the angels and that’s who we are really, really are. Everybody just fell asleep, but we are fallen angels. We are all waking up now. And the good people are waking up to bring peace on earth,” she added.
Miller’s biggest take away from the show was encouragement about the future of society.
“There is an orchestration that’s happening on this planet as one set of people are destroying things, and there is a set of really good people that are rising up and using music, and song, and dance to heal the world,” she said.
Professional Musician: ‘Everything about it is perfection’
Barry Cahill plays woodwinds and keyboard as a profession and said he was blown away by Shen Yun’s overall performance.
“It’s amazing. Everything about it is perfection. The music, the choreography,” Cahill said, “The thing I’m most astonished with is how not only they can do all those incredible things, but remember them all. The dance numbers are so long and involved and there’s so much to remember, and let alone to have the agility and strength and endurance to do it, and then remember it all on top of it. It’s really quite astonishing.”
Cahill had enormous praise for Shen Yun’s unique orchestra. “The music is incredible, and it’s so well matched to the dance. Everything from every gong strike, every percussion hit, to the leaps that happen simultaneously; and, the flowing Western part of it—the strings, the woodwinds—melded with the traditional Chinese instruments; that really helped convey the story.
“The orchestra’s extremely well-rehearsed and tight. And it’s not a thrown-together orchestra. I can tell these people have played together for a long time just because it’s so good.
“It’s brilliant. It’s brilliant. The counterpoint, everything about it,” Cahill said.
According to Shen Yun’s website, they believe that “the classical arts are a window into higher knowledge and even divine inspiration. And what better gateway to this world is there than classical music? A place where the heavenly and earthly intertwine, where we are moved at our deepest levels, and where beauty inspires us to greater things…. [we] strive to wed perfection of self with the perfection of art.”
Cahill noticed this divinely-inspired aspect of the performance.
“I really liked that. It was traditional Daoist Confucian-type values and I really thought that it was good that it was exposed to the world. A lot of people in the West think of China’s repressive communist regime, and they’ve forgotten the incredible spiritual tradition that lives on there, underground, right now. But, the world needs to know about that.
“Shen Yun was a great balance of yin and yang. There is the strength of the leaps and the twirls and the windmills, but there’s also the grace and gentle flowing-ness, particularly the water sleeves number. It was just really, really beautiful. And, very well balanced between the two ends of the spectrum,” Cahill said.
With reporting by NTD Television and Brett Featherstone.
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.