PHILADELPHIA—The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra brought a whole palette of feelings to concertgoers at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia on Oct. 25. The feelings ranged from a gentle spiritual awareness to being moved almost to tears.
Like Shen Yun Performing Arts, which showcases classical Chinese dance, the orchestra aims to revive the divinely inspired wisdom of China’s 5,000 year old civilization.
In order to capture this ancient culture, Symphony Orchestra borrows from two rich traditions: ancient Chinese instruments, like the pipa and erhu, and a full Western symphony orchestra.
“What’s enjoyable is how the orchestra captures the spiritual elements of it with the strength of the Western orchestra,” said psychologist John Livil, who attended the performance.
For Mr. Livil, the spiritual elements came especially through the violin and soprano solo pieces.
The orchestra travels with award-winning vocalists as well as featured instrumentalists.
“It’s very enlightening, very in sync with the spirit,” Mr. Livil said.
The emotions the singers brought forth carried the idea of enlightenment, he thought. And “the lightness of the music … touches your soul. It’s very gentle.”
While Mr. Livil described the gentleness of the performance, Frank Beyer, also in the audience, described that hope came through the performance.
Mr. Beyer, a retired Merrill Lynch wealth management director, enjoyed the final piece, “The Power of Compassion,” which he felt was a story of hope. He could hear how the piece, dramatic at the beginning, transitioned into beauty, representing hope at the end.
Attending with Mr. Beyer was Jill Green who experienced a wide range of feelings.
“The first piece that opened almost brought tears to my eyes,” she said, of a piece titled “Following the Creator to Renew All Things.”
She felt other pieces were somber, but at other times she felt happy from one piece to the next.
In fact, because she loves music, she couldn’t refrain from tapping her feet, and moving in her seat, almost to the point that she wondered if she were bothering others in the audience.
“Goosebumps, almost tears—joyful,” she said, describing the range of what she experienced.
Orchestra conductor Milen Nachev may have an explanation for Ms. Green’s feelings of tears and goosebumps, Mr. Beyer’s understanding of hope, and Mr. Livil’s sense of enlightenment. On the company’s website, he explains that the orchestra members endeavor to cultivate their spiritual natures and meditate before performances to ensure they are playing with pure hearts.
Nachev states: “You see people from the audience say they cried but they don’t know why. Or they say they feel uplifted, but they don’t know why.
“I would say what most accounts for this is the idea that through meditation and personal development and personal improvement, we are capable of communicating with the audience not only through the surface of the music, but at a deeper layer of inner meaning.”
He says that most orchestras touch people emotionally, but that Shen Yun goes one step deeper. “We go beyond that,” he says, to touch the soul.
Reporting from NTD Television and Sharon Kilarski
New York-based Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra comprises musicians from the four Shen Yun Performing Arts touring companies. Shen Yun Performing Arts begins its 2016 world tour on Dec. 22, 2015.
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.