Technical Director: Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra ‘It was like being in heaven’

October 19, 2013 Updated: December 27, 2013

COSTA MESA, Calif.—“It’s lyrical, it’s fun, it’s upbeat,” said Arpad Petrass, about Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s performance on Oct. 18 at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Mr. Petrass is the entertainment technical director at the Disneyland Resort, in charge of lighting, audio, and video. He attended the show with his wife, Peg.

The orchestra performs original compositions, inspired by Chinese music, and it also performs several masterpieces of the Western classical tradition.

Mr. Petrass was excited about the orchestra’s original compositions: “I love them! I love that it’s original! I think it’s fantastic.”

Part of what makes the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra unique is its mix of Eastern and Western instruments. The orchestra’s website explains: “It is the world’s only orchestra that combines both classical Western and Chinese instruments as its permanent members. Alongside classical Western symphonic mainstays—like brass, woodwinds, strings, and percussion—Shen Yun incorporates ancient Chinese instruments such as the two-stringed erhu and the plucked pipa.”

This mix of instrumentation also scored points with Mr. Petrass. “I think it’s fantastic. It’s just a little bit of something for everybody.”

“Based on the harmonic language of the Western Classic-Romantic tradition, the music of the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra includes Chinese folk tunes, indigenous musical scales, and musical practices from China’s various dynasties,” explains the orchestra’s website.

All the Chinese pieces painted a picture for Mr. Petrass: “It’s like watching a big, episodic movie about China, and just listening to the score,” he said.

Mrs. Petrass also enjoyed the original pieces. “I love them, I just love them. They take you to another place, emotionally.”

“It was like being in heaven, going to another level, another plane,” she said of the performance. “It was beautiful, we are so happy to be here tonight.”

Reporting by Therese Liu and Ben Bendig

Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is on a seven-city tour with performances in Washington, D.C.; New York; Boston; Houston; Dallas; Los Angeles; and San Francisco, from Sept. 27–Oct. 22. For more information, visit