TORONTO—The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra has been wowing audiences since it began its international debut at Carnegie Hall in 2012, and its Oct. 23 performance at Roy Thomson Hall was no exception. The concert ended with standing ovations, two curtain calls, and three encores, with the audience showing its appreciation while longing to hear more of the orchestra’s unique blend of Western and Chinese instruments.
Noted Canadian flautist Allan Pulker, who saw the orchestra for the first time that afternoon, described it as nothing short of brilliant.
“The virtuosity, the absolute brilliance and competence and flair—it is a very accomplished orchestra. And they are very, very young as well. It’s a tribute to the level of education that these people have had. They are just a brilliant orchestra,” he said.
“It’s a very accomplished and well-trained orchestra, no doubt about it, and the soloist, Fiona Zheng, is an amazing violinist.”
He also praised conductor Milen Nachev.
“He is very well-trained obviously. He loves what he is doing. He has a very good rapport with his orchestra, no question about it. I think they really love playing under him.”
Mr. Pulker teaches flute at the Kingsway Conservatory of Music and plays flute and recorder in Kaus Borealis, a Toronto-based early music ensemble. He is also the publisher of WholeNote Magazine, a monthly guide to the live music scene in Southern Ontario.
The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s program features Western classics as well as original works from New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts, the world’s premier classical Chinese dance company that tours the world every year.
The orchestra has Western instruments as its foundation while it brings out Chinese musical flair through a variety of instruments such as the erhu, pipa, and suona.
“It’s interesting this idea of taking traditional Chinese music and orchestrating it for a Western symphony orchestra,” Mr. Pulker said.
He noted the seamlessness of the combination of East and West and the new sound the orchestra produced.
“I think the use of the Chinese instruments is very, very well done, and the players, of course, are beyond compare,” he said.
“And it’s amazing how well they [the Chinese instruments] fit. They just sound as if they belong in the orchestra although their timbre—their sound—is quite unique, quite new, in the symphonic context,” he added. “That is something you don’t really see in the European incorporation of traditional music into the orchestral context.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Joan Delaney
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.