BOSTON—The grand tradition of the Western symphony orchestra melded seamlessly with ancient Chinese instruments at the Boston Symphony Hall afternoon of Saturday Oct. 4 in a performance by Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra. It created a peacefulness that spoke to professor Tamara Pul in a way she had never experienced.
“The style of the music, the serenity of it really speaks volumes,” said Ms. Pul, who attended the performance with her husband, Ruslan Vaulin, a physicist at MIT. “It’s basically speaking to someone’s inner spirit.”
“It’s heartwarming,” Ms. Pul said of the program, which included both original compositions featuring Chinese instruments, and classical pieces, like one by 19th century Czech composer Antonin Leopold Dvorak.
“You have the solemn pieces as well as the lively pieces, which basically brings everyone together, which makes it a very nice performance.”
The performance at the landmark Boston Symphony Hall, considered the finest symphony hall in the country, marks the start of Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s third season. The orchestra is a combination of about 100 musicians selected from the renowned Shen Yun Performing Arts companies; Shen Yun Performing Arts brings 5,000 years of Chinese culture to the stage in story-based classical Chinese dances.
Classical Chinese instruments, such as the pipa and erhu, are blended into the full Western symphony in a way—and scale—no other ensemble has been able to accomplish before.
The original compositions stuck with Mr. Vaulin, who said the fusion of the Chinese instruments in the piece “Steadfast Lotus” melded the East and the West in a way that was new for him.
“Steadfast Lotus,” written by composer Gao Yuan, is based on a narrative dance of the same name from a season of Shen Yun Performing Arts. It tells the story of a young girl in China who stands up for her faith against persecution, mirroring countless similar contemporary stories, according to Shen Yun’s website.
“The key, I think, [is] it brings China here and puts it on a map, and it brings people a different insight,” Mr. Vaulin said. The majority of news about China revolves around politics, he explained, but the politics of China do not make up the culture of China.
“It’s not politics that shines, it [the performance] really reminds people it’s music, it’s culture,” Mr. Vaulin said. “This is what I think is the most important impact.”
Reporting by Stacy Chen and Catherine Yang
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is on a seven-city tour with performances in Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Toronto, Chicago, Miami, and Sarasota, from Oct. 4–27. For more information, visit Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra