TAIPEI, Taiwan—For four years, fans of Shen Yun in Taiwan could only envy those living in the United States and Canada as the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra toured the two countries. Now, to the delight of fans, the Symphony Orchestra will put on 16 performances at 12 of the island’s cities beginning on Sept. 17.
Created to accompany Shen Yun Performing Arts, a New York-based classical Chinese dance company that aims to revitalize 5,000 years of authentic Chinese culture, Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra delivers unique music by blending traditional Eastern instruments with Western ones.
“We’ve invited Shen Yun Performing Arts to Taiwan for a decade. Having 35 to 40 shows per year and selling out almost all the tickets, Shen Yun is beloved and highly praised by the audience,” said Dr. Chin-hwa Chang in an email interview. Chang is a professor at the Graduate Institute of Journalism at National Taiwan University and the head of Taiwan’s Dafa Association, the hosting organization for Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s tour of Taiwan.
“Shen Yun’s fans love its music as well,” Dr. Chang explained why they decided to invite the Symphony Orchestra to Taiwan, “When they learned of the inception of Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra and the splash caused by its first performance in the United States four years ago, they’ve been looking forwards to attending the concert since then.”
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra will tour in 12 cities in Taiwan from Sep. 17 to Oct. 3. So far, the demand for the tickets has been very high. In one city where the Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to perform, more than half of the available tickets were booked before tickets were officially on sale.
“The tickets have almost been sold out in some cities by now,” said Dr. Chang.
Dr. Chang said Shen Yun’s music captivates the audience for two major features—the combination of Western and Eastern instruments and the cultural values of its music.
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra produces powerful yet distinctly elegant sounds by merging classical Eastern instruments, such as the erhu, the two-stringed violin, with the grandeur of Western instruments to create a harmonious and beautiful sound.
Accentuated by the power of the Western Orchestra, the melodies played by the Chinese instruments soothe and capture music lovers’ hearts. This merging of East and West is, however, difficult to play.
The difficulties lie with bridging the differences between two different kinds of instruments to “create a harmonious musical entity,” explained Yung-Lian G. Fann, 29, former violinist with the Symphony Orchestra, in an email interview. Mr. Fann is now a Violin and String Orchestra teacher at the Taiwan branch of New York-based Fei Tian Academy of Arts.
Mr. Fann elaborated further that it was difficult to find “the right combination of timbres,” “common intonation,” and “different effects produced by each instrument” to tell a story with completely different instruments.
Kerry Stratton, conductor of the Toronto Concert Orchestra, after attending the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto in October last year, pointed out it was hard to avoid having the sounds of Chinese instruments being completely overwhelmed by those of Western instruments.
“[Shen Yun conductors] have solved this balance problem well. To combine that sound—that very ancient sound with the more modern, let’s say, Western orchestral sound—is a challenge that [Shen Yun] have met very well.”
While also playing classical western masterpieces, such as the music of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, the Symphony Orchestra treats the audience to original Chinese melodies.
The Shen Yun website describes “soul-stirring melodies from the ancient Middle Kingdom” that are “fully brought to life by a Western symphony orchestra.”
Musicians in the Symphony Orchestra contribute to the creation of Shen Yun’s music, a practice that is rare in other symphony orchestras.
“A unique experience of being in Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is to take part in the musical creation,” wrote Mr. Fann. “Sometimes a composer asks a musician whether a passage is possible to play on his instrument, and the musician can offer instant feedback.”
A Refreshing Experience
Great music gives positive energy that helps people to focus and relax, wrote Mr. Fann, and this is what the Symphony Orchestra can offer. He believes the audience members, whether they are the general public, musicians or just music lovers would walk away with a very “refreshing experience.”
Additionally, Mr. Fann wrote, those in the audience will surely feel uplifted after the performance and there will be something to take home for anyone. The general public in Taiwan can enjoy it because “some of the pieces are stories or cultures that [they] are familiar with” and music lovers and concertgoers “will also find familiar Western classical pieces.”
“[Those in the audience] will hear and feel the passion coming from the conductors and musicians,” wrote Mr. Fann.
Reporting by Frank Fang, Billy Shyu, and Sunny Chao.
New York-based Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra comprises musicians from the four Shen Yun Performing Arts touring companies. For information about the October performances, visit: ShenYun.com/Symphony
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.