It was on a trip to Budapest, Hungary, that Spanish composer and brilliant violinist Pablo de Sarasate (1844–1908) was treated to the folk tunes and fiery csárdás (folk dances) of the Roma people that inspired his famed “Zigeunerweisen” (“Gypsy Airs”).
Published in 1878, the piece for violin and orchestra remains one of the most famous and favorite virtuoso pieces for violin. It combines two of Sarasate’s greatest talents—writing pieces that demonstrate the extent of a violinist’s skill, and borrowing the authentic essence of different cultures.
It is a fitting piece to perform in Miami, one of the nation’s most global cities, where one can enjoy music, art, culture, trade, and fare from around the world. The city has been nicknamed the Capital of Latin America and the Cruise Capital of the World, and has one of the highest proportions of residents who speak English as a second language.
It also has a diverse, dynamic music scene that is sure to welcome the return of Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s unique feature—blending the sounds of East and West.
On Oct. 15, the orchestra will return in the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for one performance. The program includes original compositions that draw on the thousands of years of traditional Chinese music, including folk tunes, as well as classical Western favorites like Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen.”
“In our Chinese pieces, I see very subtle and nuanced emotion, and I find Western music more lavish and grand. I greatly enjoy both styles,” says violin virtuoso Fiona Zheng, who will be performing the Sarasate piece, in an in-depth Q-and-A available on Shen Yun’s website.
Doing what no other ensemble has managed to do, Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra harmonizes traditional Chinese instruments—like the two-stringed erhu and plucked pipa—with a full Western symphony. The result is what audience members have described as majestic, divine, and inspiring.
‘A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience’
“It’s brought me a lot of excitement and inspiration,” said Lourival Rodriguez, a video director at Sony Music, who saw a concert in Miami last year. Mr. Rodriquez described the performance as “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Aida Fishman, former cultural minister of Costa Rica, also attended last year and took great interest in the blending of the Chinese instruments—which are different in tone and scale—with the Western instruments.
In Costa Mesa, Calif., audience member Charles Terry said the experience was “probably the best day of my life.”
On Oct. 3, the orchestra kicked off its 2015 tour in Toronto, where Alison Scarrow, general manager of the Festival of the Sound, attended the concert. “The music touches the soul. It’s joyful, it’s all emotion, and I have loved every minute of it today,” she said.
Elizabeth Raum, one of the finest oboe players in Canada and recipient of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit for her musical accomplishments, was enchanted with the performance: “I think the audience was overwhelmed too. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two standing ovations and two encores like that, and I think it would have gone on, but the conductor left.”
After Toronto, the orchestra moved on to perform in Burlington, Vt., and next returned to Carnegie Hall in New York, where it made its debut four years ago, and then on to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Oct. 11.
After a performance in Sarasota, Fla., on Oct. 13, the orchestra will give one performance in Miami on Oct. 15 before moving back north to Chicago and Boston for the weekend. For information about the orchestra’s October performances, visit ShenYun.com/Symphony
With reporting by Catherine Yang
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.