SAN JOSE, Calif.—Ryan Riegel, a co-founder and developer at Skytree, Inc., said the Shen Yun performance was amazing. He attended the Jan. 4 performance at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.
“It had a lot of art forms that I’ve never seen before, and I think it was very neat to be exposed to that for the first time myself,” Mr. Riegel said.
Among the new experiences for Mr. Riegel was the distinctly Chinese instrument, the erhu, often referred to as the “Chinese violin.”
“The erhu—that was an extremely moving experience,” Mr. Riegel said. “I think that it was rather profound—the amount of expression that is capable with a fairly simple but difficult-to-master [instrument]. Obviously they’re very difficult to play.”
Shen Yun performances often include an erhu performance by one of the company’s virtuosic soloists. According to the Shen Yun website, the erhu is “an alto instrument with a middle-high musical range.” “Its melodies can be tender or sonorous. In its lowest and middle range, the erhu is especially stirring and somber, a quality eminently suitable for conveying the grand pageant of China’s history and the emotions of its people.”
The differences between a violin and erhu are significant as well. The erhu has only two strings and nothing to press the strings against; musicians must remember where each note is.
“Intonation is one of the instrument’s greatest challenges, as different positions and degrees of pressure can dramatically change the free-floating strings’ pitch,” the Shen Yun website states.
Mr. Riegel enjoyed both the new cultural experience provided by Shen Yun Performing Arts World Company and the familiar—the classic tale of Journey to the West.
“It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the characters and the music and how both played together. Pigsy … had a particular song. I very much liked the entire experience,” Mr. Riegel said.
Journey to the West, one of the four classics of Chinese literature, is an entertaining retelling of the story of a real monk who traveled to India to obtain Buddhist scriptures by decree of the emperor during the Tang Dynasty, China’s golden age.
According to the Shen Yun website: “On the journey they encounter one trial after another—a total of 81, to be precise. Through force or deception, a motley of demons and evil spirits come after the monk. Indeed in this novel so rich in symbolism, the tribulations the travelers face are metaphors for the trials one must pass on a spiritual journey.”
After his first Shen Yun performance, Mr. Riegel said: “Shen Yun is something definitely worth experiencing. It’s beautiful, and it’s a deep message. I really think that my friends should all experience it.”
For many, Shen Yun represents a renaissance of China’s cultural heritage.
Reporting by Chiawei Lin and Miles Segni
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.