NEW YORK—As the first strains of the “Star Spangled Banner” resonated through Carnegie Hall, audience members in Stern Hall, Perelman Stage were entranced.
Milton Seidler and his wife Amy attend classical shows as often as they can. They are a musical family: Mr. Seidler plays the violin and piano, while Mrs. Seidler is a pianist. Mr. Seidler’s nephew was well-known composer Alan Seidler, who recently passed away.
“I thought this was a lovely combination of Eastern and Western music. I am very much for that, I’d like to hear more of it,” Mr. Seidler said during intermission. “They’re fine musicians.”
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s original compositions were performed by a classical Western orchestra combined with several traditional Chinese instruments, like erhu and pipa. Meanwhile, Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s classical Western compositions were performed by the base of the orchestra composed entirely of classical Western instruments and enriched the repertoire. The performance was also punctuated by several opera pieces, sung in Chinese to the accompaniment of the full East-West orchestra.
Mr. Seidler lamented the decline in classical music appreciation, “especially among the young people in this country.”
But, he said: “I’m very proud of the performers. I thought it was a very fine orchestra and hope it can expand into further performances and compositions.”
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra draws upon China’s 5,000-year traditional culture to create a musical experience that Brooklyn View called “absolutely perfect music.”
For its original pieces, Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra brings forth a unique sound by merging traditional Chinese and classical Western instruments. Because they come from such different musical traditions, Chinese and Western instruments have been difficult to harmonize on a large scale. Few have succeeded in this endeavor, but the members of Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra, drawn from the musicians of Shen Yun Performing Arts, have been doing so since 2006.
For 7 years, the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra has performed the musical accompaniment for Shen Yun Performing Arts, the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company.
Shen Yun composers have created pieces to accompany dance that combine the spirit of Chinese music with the precision and power of Western music. Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra elevates this aesthetic to a concert format.
During Saturday’s afternoon performance, the orchestra wove effortlessly between Western classics like Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture,” Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Polonaise” from Eugene Onegin, and Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s original compositions such as “Spirit of the Han Dynasty.”
Kendra Weill and her son Gus attended the concert Saturday afternoon.
“It’s very inspirational and awesome. It just lifts you right up. You feel like you’re being lifted up with the whole orchestra,” Ms. Weill, a legal assistant, said at intermission.
Mr. Weill said it was their first time at Carnegie Hall.
“We’ve been wanting to come here for a while,” he said. “It’s really great so far—the singing is amazing. I was very surprised. It was the first time I’ve seen something like that.”
Mr. Weill said he was looking forward to hearing the composition “Hope of Returning Home.”
“You can feel that there’s a story behind it,” he said of the concert.
After a successful debut at Carnegie Hall last year, Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra returned for two performances on Oct. 5., this time as part of a seven-city tour throughout the country.
Reporting by Amelia Pang and Ivan Pentchoukov
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra was on a seven-city tour with performances in Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, from Sept. 27–Oct. 22. For more information, visit Symphony.Shenyun.com