Music Teacher: Shen Yun Orchestra ‘Elegant’ and ‘Peaceful’

BY Epoch Times Staff TIMEMay 12, 2013 PRINT

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Catherine Koch, vocal music teacher at Fayetteville Manlius Schools, was pleasantly surprised by the tenors and sopranos in Shen Yun Performing Arts.

Shen Yun’s vocalists use the bel canto technique, while retaining Chinese pronunciation and diction. “Today, their ability to do this is unparalleled,” according to the company’s website.

Ms. Koch said the singing was “powerful” and said she hadn’t heard the style used by Chinese singers before. “That was really awesome,” she said. “I loved it.”

The singers perform solos accompanied by a pianist, featured between sets of dance pieces.

Ms. Koch has been teaching music for 24 years at the six schools in the school district. Her experience includes creating a brand new song celebrating the history of Manlius, which was performed by students at Eagle Hill Middle School. She is a graduate of Bucknell University and Syracuse University.

Shen Yun is a New York-based company traversing the globe with one mission—to revive the ancient, divinely-inspired Chinese culture.

Accompanying the dancers in Shen Yun is a unique and fresh orchestra, which combined both classical Western and Chinese instruments, such as the pipa (Chinese lute); dizi (bamboo flute); and different sized gongs.

“While each of the Chinese instruments differs greatly in character, their interactions produce euphonious sounds that may surprise the listener,” explains Shen Yun’s website. “In fact, the emotions that these instruments are capable of invoking are as refined and subtle as they are complex. Through the performer’s technical excellence and emotive expression, any human emotion can be depicted.”

Ms. Koch said she loved the orchestral music.

“It’s just elegant, and peaceful, and it’s beautiful,” she said.

John Gerber, a retired attorney who accompanied Ms. Koch to the May 12 performance at The Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater, found one Chinese instrument particularly intriguing—the erhu, or two-stringed Chinese violin. The erhu has a history nearly as long as the 5,000-year-old Chinese culture.

“To me it’s mournful and beautiful, and it stirs up emotion—all kinds” he said. “Brings your emotions to the fore, because of its beauty.”

Reporting by Madalina Hubert and Zachary Stieber

Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit

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.

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