Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra Delights Toronto Audience

October 3, 2015

TORONTO—The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra put on a thrilling performance at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall on Oct. 3, bringing the 2,000-strong audience to its feet for an extended standing ovation and drawing the musicians back for two encores.

The performance was the first for the orchestra this year, kicking off an 11-city tour across North America.

The concert began with the sounding of the gong. The erhu, the strings, the brass, and the percussion each played their parts, until the full orchestra joined in, signalling the arrival of the Creator. He calls on divine beings to descend on earth, to incarnate in China, where they begin a glorious civilization that will last for 5,000 years.

The audience watched, spellbound, some wiping tears from their eyes. The musicians spoke to their hearts.

Led by internationally acclaimed conductor Milen Nachev, at first glance Shen Yun is a traditional Western orchestra, but upon looking closer you will find the erhu and the pipa, two of the Middle Kingdom’s most majestic instruments.

“I have been to many orchestras before, but there was something different about the instruments. It really vibrates in your body. … Every hair follicle stands up,” said Javier Alvarez.

Mr. Alvarez, who works in the restoration business, said he felt he had been taken on a journey.

“It was a flood of feelings and visualizations—childhood, movies, just scenic pictures that I have seen before, places that I would like to go to. Whether it was something that I’ve already seen or whether I was imagining it I am not sure, it’s just that it was very vivid,” he said. 

“And at times I could close my eyes and I actually was there. I had my wife next to me nudge me because she thought I was sleeping but actually no, I wanted to close them just to have that full experience. Without any interruptions from the people and the lights. So just closing my eyes and visualizing it myself was actually just great.” 

“It was amazing, I loved it.”

The orchestra comprises members of the smaller orchestras of Shen Yun Performing Arts, a New York-based classical Chinese dance and music company that has been touring internationally since 2006 showcasing China’s ancient traditional culture.

The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra plays classical Western pieces from composers like Tchaikovsky and Sarasate as well as its own compositions. 

‘We feel relaxed and enriched’

Iuliana at Roy Thomson Hall after attending the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra concert on Oct. 3, 2015. (Dongyu Teng/Epoch Times)
Iuliana at Roy Thomson Hall after attending the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra concert on Oct. 3, 2015. (Dongyu Teng/Epoch Times)

Another audience member, Iuliana, an accountant, was so taken by the concert that she right away pre-ordered tickets for the upcoming Shen Yun Performing Arts show in April. 

“After the concert I feel like I am rich. I’m rich after the concert. It was amazing,” she said. 

“The music is very good for us. We feel relaxed and enriched as a person after the concert. Spiritually we feel better after the concert,” she said.

“I feel good and want to come back. We want to come back for the next concert next year.”

For some in the audience it was their first time hearing some of the Chinese instruments featured in the orchestra.

“I thought the show was really interesting,” said Richard Perzan. 

“I really enjoyed listening to some of the Chinese instruments, especially the erhu. I thought the mix between the erhu and the orchestra was fantastic.”

The orchestra also resonated with his young son Alex.

“I’m not really too big on orchestras. I thought it was good, though. Usually I’m forced to go here. This time I thought it was pretty nice.”

With reporting by Matthew Little and Dongyu Teng

New York-based Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra comprises musicians from the four Shen Yun Performing Arts touring companies. For information about the October performances, visit: