PHILADELPHIA—Richard Di Blasio, a retired music instructor and former school principal, had come up from Delaware to see Shen Yun Performing Arts on Feb. 19 and said he loved the performance.
“We were here a couple of years ago before COVID hit and we fell in love with all the dancers, all the music,” he said.
And this year, it was at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia, that Shen Yun continued to amaze Mr. Di Blasio.
“It’s spectacular,” he said, commenting on the performance’s digitally perfected background.
Mr. Di Blasio took note of many things during the performance.
“I look at the dancers and I hear the music, and I see the precision between the music and the dancers. It’s absolutely wonderful. I don’t know who created the music for this particular [performance]—they need to be congratulated—it’s just marvelous,” he said.
Shen Yun’s mission is to revive Chinese traditional culture which was brought to the brink of extinction under the communist regime.
Its orchestra blends the sounds of classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments and is unique in the world.
Mr. Di Blasio, who writes music for bands, has been inspired.
“The playing is excellent. The gentleman leading the orchestra—needs to be commended. I think the balance is so beautiful between strings, brass, woodwinds. It’s very touching in some moments and very exciting in other moments. I love it,” he said.
In the opening dance, “Salvation During End Times,” Mr. Di Blasio felt “great peace.”
He felt a connection with the spiritual element of the performance, “It’s very important to me for me and my family to have a religious connection.”
Shen Yun’s Fantastic Vocalist
Also watching Shen Yun were Marcella Garwood, a real estate and facilities manager for Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions, and her friend, Marion Schuenemann.
Many cultures looked toward the divine for inspiration. Ms. Garwood connected with Shen Yun’s artistic presentation of spirituality in China’s traditional culture.
“It was definitely very uplifting. It was beautiful,” she said.
The program includes vocalists using the bel canto technique and words reflecting on life.
“I loved the baritone. That was fantastic,” she said.
The baritone sang “To Heaven in this Lifetime,” which speaks of a journey through the layers of heaven. To Ms. Garwood’s delight, the lyrics, translated in English, were projected in the background for the audience to read.
Ms. Garwood felt a connection with the vocalist’s words projected in English on the backdrop.
“It was very enlightening. And … even thinking about how many times we are here [on earth] … to keep coming back and not to get our mind clouded. I just thought it was really, really, good.”
She enjoyed the classical Chinese dancing in “Plum Blossom in Spring,” as well as the dance stories from China’s pre-communist era.
“And then having a live orchestra really, really was the perfect touch,” she said.
Ms. Garwood noted the smooth interaction between Shen Yun’s digital projection and the stage, and how “the costumes that blended harmoniously with the background, and the vivid color, gave one a good feeling.”
Ms. Schuenemann had formerly lived in China closer to the time of the Cultural Revolution. “Once the Cultural Revolution came, everything was lost.”
But, Chinese culture had deteriorated further since that time, she said.
Her takeaway from her experience at Shen Yun was the harmony in everything she saw.
“I thought that that was just the most creative thing,” she said.
Reporting by Weiyong Zhu and Diane Cordemans.