HOLLYWOOD—Orchestrator and music producer Bill Brendle wasn’t sure what to expect before coming to see Shen Yun Performing Arts. He was impressed after seeing it in promotional videos, but that was nothing compared to seeing the production with his own eyes.
“It’s much more effective when you see it in person,” Brendle said. “You can feel the energy of the performers, all the dancers, orchestra, and all the elements just coming together.”
“It’s really a sight to see, and a visual treat for your eyes, and for your ears, and it translates into your spirit.”
“I’m loving it.”
The orchestrator saw the performance at the Hollywood Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, California, on May 4.
The New York-based classical Chinese dance company is currently touring the world, with the aim to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. Its two-hour-long performance boasts a range of self-contained pieces, including Chinese dance vignettes, vocal soloists, and dance-based storytelling, all supported by a live orchestra.
Brendle is an award-winning music producer, orchestrator, composer, and musician who has worked in film, television, theater, recording, and live performance. He is the orchestrator and electronic music producer for the Broadway musical “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.” He also arranged the 2018 Tony Awards show, seasons two to seven of “American Idol,” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” In film, he was composer for “The Sentinel” and “The Game of Their Lives.” In the studio, he has arranged on recordings with Sergio Mendes, Joss Stone, The Lonely Island, and Jojo.
As an orchestrator, Brendle was paying particular attention to the music played by Shen Yun’s orchestra.
“I often hear, when I go to theater events, they make it sound very processed, very artificial,” he said. “But the sounds I’m hearing [from Shen Yun] sounds very organic, beautiful sounds.”
The balance of the orchestration impressed Brendle the most, who said the composition was effective in supporting the dancing on stage, forming a harmonious pairing.
“I like the how they design the sound to just to enhance the beauty of the orchestrations without making it sound artificial,” he said.
Shen Yun’s orchestra’s unique blend of instruments obviously did not escape Brendle’s ear.
“I obviously enjoy the sound of orchestration, so I can see what they’ve done how they try to blend the traditional Chinese instruments with the Western instruments, and I think it works very well,” he said.
“I particularly enjoy hearing like when the big percussion elements come in, with the gongs, the drums, really brings in some drama to the music orchestration. You can tell it helps the dancers to perform to their best.”
The orchestrator also picked up on another quality, that may have escaped an average listener.
“I can tell that they’re [the musicians] enjoying playing together,” Brendle said. “You can hear it in their expression and the dynamics they’re playing.
“As an orchestrator, whenever I write for music, I try to write for instrumentalists to play music that they’ll enjoy playing. Sometimes you can tell the musicians are there, they’re just kind of … doing their job and getting it done, but I can tell the orchestras are enjoying themselves, and it’s coming through in the music.”
Brendle wasn’t only drawn to the music, he was also blown away by the dancers.
“The dancers are amazing,” he said. “I’m very impressed with each one of them, they all seem to be on their own, they’re each incredible dancers. When they perform as an ensemble, when they lock together, they’re just so precise … I haven’t seen anything like it before in the theater.”
The combined effect of the audial and visual elements of the production gave Brendle a feeling that transcended his physical senses.
“I’m enjoying the dynamics, expressions … it makes me feel very good. It’s a very positive feeling, it’s a feeling of hope, hopefulness, and I think that carries over between all the elements in the show.”
With reporting by NTD Television.
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.