Standing Ovations, Encores for Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

October 11, 2015

NEW YORK—Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s only two performances at Carnegie Hall on Saturday Oct. 10 left many wanting more. The audience clapped with hands held high, enthusiastically, giving two standing ovations at both the afternoon and evening performances.

Richard A. Williamson, a lawyer, said he stood among everyone else in the concert hall, “out of appreciation and out of respect for their performance, for what they gave of themselves, for their passion, for their excellence as musicians, of course, absolutely with pleasure.”

When asked what they thought of the concert, the most common and immediate response from audience members was “fabulous.” Others were at a loss for words, almost teary eyed—as if stunned by the beauty of the unique sound of the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra, of how it seamlessly harmonizes both Western and ancient Chinese instruments.

Three people described the pieces as epic and cinematic, perhaps because—like program music—each piece derives from a story, both legendary and actual. Referencing movies like “Lawrence of Arabia” or “Ben-Hur,” a concert music aficionado and a retired lawyer, Ronald Beifeld, said “it was easy to listen to, melodic, a lot of it sounded like music for epic, spectacular movies; I mean it in a good way.”

For others, whole scenes would be conjured up in their minds as they listened attentively.

Smiling gently, Mike Schaefer, a retired managing director of a bank and currently working at the Education Through Music charity, said “You just close your eyes sometimes and just listen, it loosens you—simply outstanding.”

Describing the music, Schaefer said it is “light and airy, and at the same time some pieces were very invigorating.”

Several people also mentioned that they found the music to be lyrical, melodic, and that they felt uplifted by the beauty of the music.

Pablo and Gina Navas enjoyed the Shen Yun Orchestra's concert at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 10, 2015.
Pablo and Gina Navas enjoyed the Shen Yun Orchestra’s concert at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 10, 2015.

A couple from Bogota, Colombia, decided to experience Shen Yun during their short visit to New York City. Pablo Navas, the president of Universidad de los Andes, and his wife Gina Navas, a dentist, were ecstatic.

“I had never heard such music before,” Mr. Navas said. Still, it felt strangely familiar to him.

“I think it is fascinating how something that you have never heard before can get to you immediately,” he said.

Mr. Navas pointed out that usually it would take more time listening to a new piece of music before one would actually sing or move along with it in one’s mind. Shen Yun’s music “is rare, this is like you have heard it all your life, like a Strauss waltz,” Mr. Navas added.

Fiona Zheng‘s violin solo performance of Pablo de Sarasate, “Zigeunerwisen” (Gypsy Airs), without a doubt, drew praise among those interviewed.

Mr. Ronald Beifeld, who has been listening to classical music all his life, said he was “very impressed by the violinist [playing the Sarasate piece].”

Mr. Naval said, “I loved the violinist playing the Sarasate, she was absolutely fantastic, beautiful!”

An 88-year-old former theater director and businessman, Earnes Deitel, was not only impressed by Ms. Zheng’s performance, but also by the “very, very interesting compositions.”

Others also mentioned the strength of the singers, who used a special bel canto technique revived from ancient times.

Overall, Mr. Williamson’s remark probably echoes that of many others, who were not interviewed.

Richard A. Williamson, at Carnegie Hall on Saturday Oct. 10, 2015, said of the Shen Yun Orchestra,
Richard A. Williamson, at Carnegie Hall on Saturday Oct. 10, 2015. (Milene Fernandez/Epoch Times)

“The whole performance was excellent. The audience seemed to love it. There was a lot of bonding there between the audience and the performers,” Williamson said.

“They played with passion and that’s pretty special. I actually thought the orchestra was having a good time. They were enjoying what they were doing, which is wonderful,” Williamson added.

The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra continues its tour with a performance on Oct. 11 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and on Oct. 13 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, Florida. For information about the orchestra’s October performances, visit

New York-based Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra comprises musicians from the four Shen Yun Performing Arts touring companies. Shen Yun Performing Arts begins its 2016 world tour on Dec. 22, 2015.

The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time.