Shen Yun Offers A Whole New Musical World, Says Singer/Songwriter

January 12, 2014 10:04 pm Last Updated: January 12, 2014 10:09 pm

HAMILTON, Canada—Singer/songwriter Whitney Peterson took a turn in the audience’s seat Sunday afternoon, to see world-renowned classical Chinese music and dance. 

Ms. Peterson, who goes by the stage name Whitney Pea, was at Shen Yun Performing Arts for the Jan. 12 matinee performance at Hamilton Place, and said it offered a whole new musical experience. 

“It was really nice to open up my ears to that,” she said. 

“It was beautiful, very dynamic, and just stunning.” 

Ms. Peterson’s passion for writing and performing music started early. Raised in a family of painters, photographers, and musicians, she began performing in 2004—at such venues as the Mayne Island Music festival and the Vancouver International Jazz festival—and has released four albums with various groups since 2007.

Her music, reminiscent of Canadian indie-folk darling Feist, is available on iTunes, and she is currently working on a new album.

She was touched by the performance of Shen Yun tenor Tian Ge, saying his voice had an “unforgettable tone.”

“It had a lot of texture to it, and a lot of emotion. It was very deep and it seemed like it resonated from his entire being,” she said. 

She also loved Soprano Guang Ling, whose femininity offered the perfect “counterbalance” to the tenor’s masculinity, she said. 

“Her [performance] was very feminine and beautiful and was very much suited to the song, what she was saying in the song and the setting,” she said. “It was lovely.”

The operatic performances sung in bel canto style with Chinese lyrics require arduous training and have been mastered by few in the world, according to the Shen Yun website. 

Ms. Peterson was also moved by the songs’ lyrics, which are all original compositions by Shen Yun artists.

“They were singing about spirituality which is a very deep and personal thing and I think that they really emoted that,” she said. “They just did that very well.”

Ms. Peterson was inspired by Shen Yun’s original orchestra, which blends traditional Chinese instruments, such as the erhu and pipa, with classical Western instruments. 

“It was a beautiful blend,” she said, adding Shen Yun made traditional Chinese culture accessible.

“Especially because it’s Chinese culture being presented in Canada, it was very attainable for me. It’s always a really nice feeling when two very different worlds can blend and I think that’s what a lot of the art is about—communicating between two things and bringing them together.” 

The orchestra and dancers were also perfectly synchronized, she added.

“The music suited the movement really perfectly. The timing of the music to the movement and the dance was just dead-on throughout the entire show.”

She was delighted by the colourful handmade costumes and how they made each character come to life.

“The costumes, wardrobe was beautiful, really vibrant,” she said. 

“It seemed like the more, sort of, villainous characters were in darker shades and muted shades and then everyone else in more spiritual entities were either in white or light, bright colours—I thought that was neat.”

According to the website, Shen Yun’s costume artists create hundreds of new pieces each season, and collect countless designs of traditional attire, ranging from those of emperors, ministers, and generals to the everyday clothing of the common people. 

Their objective is an “authentic presentation of the attire that comes from China’s divinely inspired traditional culture,” with a “consummate stage effect.”

Reporting by NTD Television and Justina Wheale

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s World Company will perform next in Kitchener-Waterloo. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.

The 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.