It was the Shen Yun Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s first stop on its 2015 North American tour and it was a phenomenal success. At the end of its performance at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall on Oct. 3, the orchestra received thunderous applause from 2,000 audience members and a lengthy standing ovation.
The New York-based orchestra, led by conductor Milen Nachev, returned twice for an encore—and the audience still wanted more.
Alison Scarrow, the general manager of Festival of the Sound, an annual classical music festival in Parry Sound, Ont., was enchanted by the performance, saying the music touched her on a deep level.
“This has been so enjoyable. The music touches the soul. It’s joyful, it’s all emotion, and I have loved every minute of it today. I’m so glad I could have the opportunity to be here,” she said.
The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra combines Chinese and Western instruments, with the Chinese instruments leading the melodies while the Western symphony serves as the foundation—something new in the world of classical music.
Ms. Scarrow enjoyed this blending of East and West.
“You can hear that, very much so. … I loved how the two juxtaposed together, and the music is amazing. It’s just absolutely amazing,” she said.
“I think it’s just the extra emotion that calls to the soul, and I find that hard to explain, but I feel there is so much in there. It just works so well together.”
The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra made its debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall four years ago, and has played annual tours in North America since. This year, the program includes classical pieces by Tchaikovsky and Sarasate as well as original Shen Yun compositions.
“I’m glad that it’s becoming more well-known,” said Ms. Scarrow. “It’s something that I’m going to be telling people about because I think they need to hear this, and enjoy the two (East and West) together as well. It’s just amazing.”
“I think that everybody should come and listen to this—absolutely they should come and listen to this because they’re going to be overwhelmed and blown away by it.”
‘It was such a pleasure’
Shen Yun’s fresh, full sound also delighted Mary Jakovceva and her husband Vladimir, both translators/interpreters.
“Amazing, just amazing. It was such a pleasure. The preciseness, and the expression of slowness, and so sensitive and so sensual—[the orchestra deserves] all these attributes, all the best attributes,” said Mrs. Jakovceva.
“It was a fabulous introduction because I was so—I don’t want to say ignorant, but not aware of these instruments, the Chinese instruments—but now I’m impressed, I’m overwhelmed. I’m absolutely happy. Today is a holiday for me, thanks to my husband. He bought the tickets. It’s a pleasure.”
These instruments include the pipa, which is plucked, and the erhu, the two-stringed “Chinese violin” played with a bow.
“I liked the sound of the Chinese instruments. That was very amazing,” said Mr. Jakovceva.
“I heard about this orchestra on a classical radio station and I’m very glad that I’m here. It’s a young orchestra but I’m sure they will have a very good future.”
“I think it’s a very good idea to introduce Oriental instruments into modern classical music, Western classical music, and when there is West with East, it is something amazing.”
Mrs. Jakovceva said it was her first time hearing Chinese soloists.
“What can I say—they’re perfect! … And the voices—the reach of the voice of both sopranos was amazing.”
“I was also very impressed by the performance of the vocalists, but I was most impressed with the violin player,” said her husband, referring to Fiona Zheng.
“I heard an interview with her on the local radio station and she’s a very interesting young lady. But for the first time in my life I heard the violin crying, or weeping, it was amazing. I’ve never heard it like that before.”
With files from NTD Television
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