ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—Angelo Collura is a world-touring professional drummer for the platinum-selling American country band Thompson Square, as well as other bands. And when he heard the unique blend of Eastern and Western instruments in Shen Yun Performing Arts‘ live orchestra, he thought it was fantastic.
“I play drums, so I love the percussion. [Shen Yun’s musicians] were, they were very good. I was watching them, watching what they were doing. They were awesome—very good, very good. All of it was very good,” he said.
Collura attended New York-based Shen Yun with his wife, Angelia Tellone, at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Feb. 15, 2020. They were both astounded by the performance.
“I thought it was beautiful and very, very well done, definitely … all of it,” Collura said about Shen Yun.
Hi wife, a personal assistant, said, “Well, I thought the dance, the music, the feeling that you have in the message through the dance—and when the two people were speaking, you know, kind of explaining each [dance piece], it was very helpful, but it sent a message.”
“I felt very calm after,” she said. “Like my soul is full. And so seeing something like that just lifted, lifted me. … I felt lifted and just yes, just a nice wonderful feeling which should happen every day.”
Shen Yun is on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture through its expressive and technically-challenging art forms such as classical Chinese dance. The soul of true Chinese culture is deeply spiritual, even heaven-sent, many say, which is an important component of the imagery and themes Shen Yun passes on to the world.
Tellone felt that Shen Yun’s message is “be kind.”
“Yes, I think so, help one another. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing,” she said.
Shen Yun carries out its mission to share authentic Chinese culture and its immaterial essence through stories, legends, and even scenes from modern-day China where spiritual believers are brutally persecuted for practicing disciplines like Falun Dafa meditation that were passed down from ancient times.
Another aspect of Shen Yun’s cultural revival is the blending of Eastern and Western instruments in its unique orchestra.
“Music was fantastic,” Collura said about Shen Yun’s original scores. The blending of East and West, “that was very interesting to me,” he said.
“I’ve been to China, so I’ve heard some of the traditional instruments and I thought they blended together—yes—I thought it was great. Really interesting.”
“Very unique,” he said. “And I was surprised how well, how well the traditional instruments blended in with the orchestra. It worked very well to me. I thought it worked. … I wouldn’t have imagined that because I’ve never heard those instruments in an American orchestra.”
This groundbreaking musical accomplishment is a great example of how Shen Yun is resurrecting and also innovating China’s art forms.
According to Shen Yun’s website, “Traditional Chinese music emphasizes the expression of inner feelings—the ancients always used musical instruments to relate their states of mind.”
“Western music, meanwhile, focuses on the overall effect of the musical ensemble—and to achieve that, arrangement and harmony are of utmost importance,” the website states. “Shen Yun’s music combines these approaches to capture the essence of both East and West.”
When Collura learned that, each year, Shen Yun’s artistic director composes all of Shen Yun’s music anew, Collura simply said, “Wow.”
Tellone expressed excitement to see next year’s all-new show, and the two punctuated their review succinctly: “Lots of work,” Collura said. “Dedication,” added Tellone.
With reporting by Sally Sun 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.