TORONTO—Michael Remenyi, third-generation manager of the famed Remenyi House of Music, encountered another musical tradition passed down through the generations on Sunday in Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Mr. Remenyi, who grew up playing cello and saxophone, was at Shen Yun’s final 2014 Toronto performance at Sony Centre and was captivated by the traditional Chinese instruments featured in the show.
“It’s interesting because historical Chinese dance and music is not something you hear about every day, it’s not a typical melody that you hear,” he said.
“When you hear a new sound for the first time it evokes an emotion right away. And this is an emotion surrounded by the dance and the music and the sense of history and tradition,” Mr. Remenyi said.
Shen Yun, a New York-based classical Chinese dance and music company, tours with a unique orchestra that blends traditional Chinese instruments into a Western philharmonic orchestra.
This harmonious marriage of East and West was a pleasure to listen to, said Mr. Remenyi.
“The music is lovely,” he said, adding he was fond of the two-stringed erhu, or Chinese violin. “It sounds beautiful.”
Mr. Remenyi has a long and fascinating family history in the music business. His grandfather, a Hungarian named Mihály Reményi, was a master violin maker and instrument dealer whose shop became a highly respected fixture in Budapest’s cultural scene.
The business was confiscated in 1951 when the communist regime terminated private enterprise, but the Remenyis immigrated to Canada soon after, and set up shop in Toronto.
The business has flourished ever since—growing from a 13-foot-wide store on Queen Street to a massive three-floor full-service music store today—passed down through three generations of Remenyis.
Mr. Remenyi said Shen Yun’s artistic treasure trove of dance, singing, orchestra music, high-tech backdrops, and costuming was impressive.
“The overall production has been phenomenal,” he said. “The combination of the [backdrop] combined with the live acting, the live dance, and the costumes is phenomenal—it is a great show.”
He was also struck by the heartfelt operatic performances of the soprano, tenor, and baritone vocal soloists. Performing bel canto style sung in Chinese lyrics, it is one of the most difficult singing styles to master, according to the Shen Yun website.
“The singing is new to hear and lovely,” he said, adding he appreciated the translation of the lyrics projected onto the digital backdrop.
“The lyrics on the screen is a big help for anyone who doesn’t speak Chinese. You can resonate with the lyrics,” he said.
According to the website, each song is an original Shen Yun composition rich with traditional Chinese philosophy on the origin and meaning of life.
“I think it’s a message that everyone can relate to in life,” said Mr. Remenyi.
A nonprofit organization, Shen Yun’s stated mission is to revive the five-millenia-old divinely inspired culture of China and share it with the world.
Reporting by NTD Television and Justina Wheale
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.