Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra Stirs New York Once Again

October 12, 2014 Updated: October 8, 2018

For a third year in a row Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra graced the stage of famed Carnegie Hall in New York City, establishing a fine tradition of unique musical experiences. Its two Saturday performances prompted the cheerful crowd to standing ovations.

But perhaps even more importantly, the concert inspired deep reflections and feelings, audience members shared.

“It fills your spirit,” said Judy Nyquist, a sculptor, after the performance Saturday afternoon. She and her husband Michael Nyquist wanted a refreshing experience for their 25th wedding anniversary—and found it.

“Being an artist, it was very heartfelt,” said Mrs. Nyquist. “I took it very much internally; it was very emotional at moments.”

Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra does, on a grand scale, what no other ensemble has successfully done before: combine ancient Chinese instruments with a full symphony orchestra. 

Instruments like the 4,000-year-old two-stringed erhu and the plucked pipa carry melodies while the Western orchestra provides a full backdrop, the company’s website explains.

“Our ancestors believed that music had the power to harmonize a person’s soul in ways that medicine could not,” Shen Yun composer Gao Yun states in a blog post. 

Behind all of Shen Yun’s music is the belief that the enduring traditions of classical Chinese and Western music are truly divine gifts, according to Shen Yun’s website.

Mrs. Nyquist wanted to delve into the inner meaning of the pieces performed. She gestured as she referenced the program book the lyrics of “A Song For You,” performed by soprano Geng Haolan.

The song ends with, “This melody is from Heaven above,” which Mrs. Nyquist felt resonated throughout the performance. 

“This philosophy … is very intrinsic to the symphony,” said Mrs. Nyquist. “I thought this was very eye opening—the universal knowledge—not just what you see and hear, but tapping into this.”

The orchestra is part of the Shen Yun Performing Arts, a New York-based company whose mission is to revive the ancient cultural traditions of China.

Audience Perspectives on Watching Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra

“Just wonderful and inspiring. … It made me really feel great and wonderful inside.”

—Ann Cronin, architect and designer

“Soothing, but also uplifting and dramatic, with the deep undertones. … It brought a tear to my eye at times.”
—Alexandra Cronin, novelist 

“I felt it more than I listened to it. The music was moving through me so I was able to get visions and experiences. At the ends of some pieces I would feel it and get chills. … The music was connecting to my spirit, and it brightened up and moved into a feeling of victory.”
—Breyone King, hip hop, R&B, jazz, and acoustic music producer

Breyone King at Carnegie Hall, Oct. 11, 2014 following a performance by Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra. (Sun Can/Epoch Times)
Breyone King at Carnegie Hall, Oct. 11, 2014 following a performance by Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra. (Sun Can/Epoch Times)

Shen Yun Performing Arts

Shen Yun Performing Arts has multiple dance companies, each with its own orchestra and vocalists. Since 2012, about 100 musicians have been selected from the companies each year to give orchestra performances.

David Conner, a longtime music director for the children’s television program “Sesame Street,” was impressed by the seamless blending of melodies, while award-winning choreographer and performance artist Jonathan Gonzalez, felt the energy of the performance.

“Energetically, it just feels like a communal whole,” said Mr. Gonzalez. “It feels very strong and seamless—dynamically and musically.”

Ms. Elizabeth Pecota, flutist and harpist from Easton, Pa., cried “at least 10 times” during the performance. “It was very moving, exciting but moving, and it just moved me to tears,” she said.

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 12.00.48 pm

The orchestra performs all-original compositions that combine the spirit of the Chinese music with the power of a Western orchestra. It also offers well-known favorites from the West, such as Antonín Dvořák’s “Carnival” overture or “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s opera “Turandot.”

“It was one of the great experiences of my life,” said University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth professor Mel Yoken, after seeing the evening performance with his son Andrew. “It was truly one of the apogees of our stay in New York City.”

Additional reporting by Epoch Times staff Catherine Yang, Sun Can, Kati Vereshaka, Leo Timm, and NTD Television 

Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is on a seven-city tour with performances in Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Toronto, Chicago, Miami, and Sarasota, through Oct. 27. For more information, visit

Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab