NEW YORK—At first glance, Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is seemingly just like any other symphony orchestra. Then the gong sounds, and the strings play a pentatonic scale, Chinese percussion instruments chime in a heavenly tune, and it is clear there is something special happening on stage.
“I would say the composer, he or she found the perfect match of the [Western] style and the East style of music,” said investment banker Felipe Sabra after attending a matinee concert at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 10.
Ancient Chinese instruments like the two-stringed erhu do take center stage, playing distinctly Chinese melodies that the orchestra harmonizes, but that isn’t all.
All of the skilled musicians, composers, arrangers, and conductors of Shen Yun rigorously collaborate to bring together the schools of Western classical music and ancient, traditional Chinese music. Violins and cellos capture the character of indigenous Chinese folk tunes. Trombones mimic the sounds of long, collapsible Tibetan metal horns.
Mr. Sabra noted a kind of symmetry and harmony in the original compositions. The violins, he heard, moved from classical European sounds to Eastern sounds and back again.
“It’s the perfect match. It’s very harmonic,” he said.
And the effect is inexplicably touching, according to Mr. Sabra.
“It is very impressive,” Mr. Sabra said. “Magnificent, it’s very touching.”
The overall performance had an effect of touching his heart, he explained, and most specifically the violin virtuoso Fiona Zheng, who performed Pablo de Sarasate’s famed “Gypsy Airs.”
“That one really goes deep, deep, deep down there. It’s really amazing,” Mr. Sabra said.
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra has been touring for four years now, and is comprised of members from Shen Yun Performing Arts, the world’s premier classical Chinese dance company.
This year marks Ms. Zheng’s debut as a soloist with Shen Yun, which is an idea that had her all nerves until she played the first note, Ms. Zheng explained in an in-depth interview on the Shen Yun website.
“Once I play that note, I start concentrating on the music, stop worrying, and just focus on sharing what my heart wants to say,” Ms. Zheng said.
The kind of music that communicates sincerely is the most important, according to the virtuoso.
“As a performer, your own heart has to be wide open. You need to be willing to expose your innermost thoughts to an audience of thousands. Because of this, sincerity is extremely crucial,” Ms. Zheng said.
What Shen Yun aims to communicate is immense.
The program includes classical favorites like the Sarasate and Tchaikovsky, along with original Chinese compositions, and bel canto solo vocalists. And behind all of the music is the belief that, as the concert’s program says, “like many enduring traditions, classical Western and Chinese music are truly divine gifts.”
Reporting by Wei Yong and Catherine Yang.
The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra continues its tour with a performance on Oct. 11 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and on Oct. 13 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, Florida. For information about the orchestra’s October performances, visit ShenYun.com/Symphony.
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.