Sweden’s Renowned Flautist: Shen Yun ‘Like entering a new world’

April 27, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

Ms. Gunilla von Bahr, a Swedish renowned flautist, enjoyed Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company in Stockholm, on 27 April.
Ms. Gunilla von Bahr, a Swedish renowned flautist, enjoyed Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company in Stockholm, on 27 April.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden—Shen Yun Peforming Arts Touring Company's final show in Stockholm on Wednesday, April 27, was visited by one of Sweden's most successful classical flautists, Ms. Gunilla von Bahr, who also has had a long career as a musical administrator. She is retired now, but she is still fond of playing the flute.

“It was fascinating, like entering a new world. It took some time for the ears to adjust and the mind to open up. A deep breath, 'OK, I'm here, enjoy.' It was a great experience,” she said, commenting on the New York-based company's presentation.

Ms. von Bahr appreciated the visual feast of the Plum Blossom scene, which tells the story of the delicate flower, that braves the cold winter, blooming in the snow.

“That was incredibly beautiful, so skillfully executed. Really lovely, how all the details had been chiseled out. The orchestra and the dancers were just so incredibly tight, the timing and the interplay. Every little movement was there in the orchestra.”

She found the Shen Yun performance both exciting and romantic.

“I'm a romantic, and I liked the playfulness, but there was both humor and seriousness. When you know what's behind it [the persecution of Falun Gong] it becomes more serious, and the playing becomes more serious. It speaks to you, it feels really important that we can address these issues in this way, through culture,” she said, and drew parallels to her own career as a musician.

“[My playing] came from the heart. I have performed so much, and I had the audience there with me, which I believe is incredibly important. As a member of the audience today, I could feel that same thing.”

After her career as a performer and recording artist, Ms. von Bahr has been the headmaster of the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden and managed the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, among other things.

In recent years, she has listened a lot to Indian and Chinese flute music, but on Wednesday she was treated to the sound of the Shen Yun Touring Company Orchestra, where the distinctive sounds of ancient Chinese instruments bathed in a sea of Western strings, woodwind and brass.

What she liked about the music in the Shen Yun show was its softness and singing quality, but also the sudden contrasts.

“I really love contrasts, it's great. It's not regular notes all the time, they use a different scale, and they also use quarter tones. I think it's great. The more you get into it, the more fun and exciting it becomes.”

Ms. von Bahr feels that there is too much evil in the world today, and would like to see more love, something that she found in Shen Yun.

“I really felt a message of love here, that we are all people here on this earth, we only have one earth and we need to take care of it together.”

Reporting by Yvonne Kleberg and Barbro Plogander.

Shen Yun Performing Arts has three companies currently visiting cities across Europe, Asia and the United States. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org