Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra ‘Mystifying,’ Says Designer

WASHINGTON—The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra started its seven-city tour to an excited audience at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, D.C. on Friday evening.

“It was almost mystifying,” said designer Katie Nehrbauer about the concert. 

The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra, which debuted last year at Carnegie Hall in New York, is a truly one-of-a-kind orchestra featuring traditional Chinese instruments within a classical Western symphony orchestra. The orchestra has achieved what many thought impossible: creating the perfect blend of Chinese and Western musical styles.

Ms. Nehrbauer said she’d heard Chinese instruments and music growing up, but this was the first time she had a chance to see an instrument such as the Chinese pipa performed at a high caliber event right in front of her.

The pipa, or Chinese lute, is an ancient instrument dating back thousands of years and has been called the king of Chinese folk instruments. It slightly resembles a Western guitar, and is often depicted in paintings in the hands of heavenly maidens. The instrument has four strings, and is plucked while held upright on the knee.

Ms. Nehrbauer said she enjoyed seeing classical Western instruments she is familiar with blended with traditional Chinese instruments. Flutes and violins played alongside the two-stringed erhu and Chinese wooden flute, the “dizi.” Instruments such as the violin, too, have been passed down through the ages, but the violin has been adapted and changed in build and sound through time. 

“I just thought it was wonderful,” Ms. Nehrbauer said, adding she would recommend the concert to her friends.

Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is playing a total of 10 performances in 7 cities this year.

“I think it’s a great show. I think a lot of people would enjoy it,” Ms. Nehrbauer said. 

Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is 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