CLAREMONT, Calif.—Music must be in the blood of Jim Hernandez. He is a musician who specializes in Tejano, or Mexican-American folk and popular music from central and southern Texas, and his brother, known as Little Joe, is a Grammy-award winner.
Mr. Hernandez attended Shen Yun Performing Arts with his wife, Lucy Ruiz, at Bridges Auditorium in Pomona College on April 8, 2016. They were both beaming after the performance.
“I don’t know how to express in words what I saw,” said Mrs. Ruiz. “It was beautiful.”
Mr. Hernandez expressed superlative praise for Shen Yun, and he spoke in a declarative manner. “This is clearly the best show in the world. It is the best show in the world,” he said. “When a performance is able to transform a person and have him walk out a theater with a whole new outlook, then it’s doing the work of God. What they are doing is using art to change the world.”
He described Shen Yun as a “total spiritual experience. I would invite the world to come… An hour ago I did not know them, but now I know the Chinese people, and I love them.”
Shen Yun is a New York-based, classical Chinese dance and music company that tours throughout the world each year in its effort to rekindle the resplendence of traditional Chinese culture.
Since ancient times, China was known as the Middle Kingdom, or “Celestial Empire,” a land where the divine and mortals were believed to coexist. Chinese people have traditionally believed that their culture—food, attire, music, medicine, and even values—is a gift from the divine.
With Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism as its foundation, Chinese culture is deeply spiritual; therefore, expressing respect and reverence for the heavens and the divine was common.
Mr. Herndandez was quite moved by Shen Yun’s display of Chinese culture.
“I used to question myself about the meaning of the words divine and spiritual, but now I know that this is divine and spiritual in the sense that it brings people together, it brings the love, natural love of people, together,” he said.
“I sincerely congratulate the Chinese, the artists … because this show sincerely releases spirituality and the divine,” he said.
“Thank God for this art,” he added.
A Shen Yun performance includes approximately 20 vignettes that carry audience members on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese civilization. Ancient legends, tales of heroism, and modern stories of steadfast faith unfold before people’s eyes and illustrate the virtues that have enabled Chinese civilization to continue longer than any other.
Most vignettes include classical Chinese, folk, and ethnic dance, and they are accompanied by a full, live orchestra that combines Eastern and Western instruments. Other pieces include vocal and instrumental soloists.
Mr. Hernandez continued to rave about Shen Yun and its performers.
“Natural talent, pure natural talent,” he said. “It touches everybody here. The musicians, the voices—everything. I am overwhelmed. I really am. … It will be with me forever.”
“I think this orchestra should perform all over the world because it teaches us the beauty of humaneness,” he said.
He also enjoyed the deep, philosophical musings contained in the songs.
Despite achieving critical acclaim worldwide and selling out in theaters across the United States, Shen Yun cannot perform in China because of Chinese Communist Party censorship and repression of artistic expression.
Perhaps because he is a musician, Mr. Hernandez understands the power of art.
Mr. Hernandez describes Shen Yun as the heart and soul of China. “It is something that [can] conquer tyranny and atrocities because this show shows that you can take music and lyrics, and natural art [and make it] into a weapon against evil.
“You have more than an atomic bomb here because what you have here is divine spirit. It would be the greatest thing if [Shen Yun] goes to China; the show must go on,” he said.
Reporting by NTD Television and Albert Roman
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.