We just finished our last show in Toronto, wrapping up a successful Canada tour. I must say, it's been awesome! We've had a nearly full house for almost every performance and the audiences here were extremely enthusiastic, which gives us performers a lot of motivation and encouragement.
In one show, a man was leaning over the orchestra railing the entire time, his eyes shifting from stage to pit, dancer to dancer, instrument to instrument, smiling and nodding throughout. Although it was a bit distracting, I was really happy to see how engaged he was in our performance. When I first joined Shen Yun and learned about what the group does, I was honestly a little overwhelmed. We're displaying through dance and music five thousand years of Chinese history and the purest essence of Chinese culture in two hours! Is that possible? Will people get it? It's moments like these that tell me: Yes, Kevin, they really do get it. Not only that, they love it!
To not let our audience down, we do our best to display the art with perfection. That’s another thing I love about being with Shen Yun— everyone works REALLY HARD. I can always feel the hustle, there's no such thing as a dull work environment or slow day. But the artists work hard not for the paycheck or the spotlight or a promotion. Everyone here is fully dedicated to a single, simple goal: present the audience with the purest and most beautiful show possible. That's it.
Here’s an example of how far we’ll go: We had our first “bus rehearsal” of the year on the road from Montreal to Toronto. Since the bus ride is too bumpy to whip out our precious instruments, we rehearsed by vocalizing our parts with the conductor leading from the head of the bus. If you can sing it right, you can play it right. So there we were, a bus of professional musicians with music on our laps alongside bags of nut-mix and practically any other snack you can think of, trying to sing insanely complicated parts. These musicians may have deft hands and fast fingers, but we are for the most part not trained as vocalists.
Far from it, actually. I almost choked trying to hit the high pitch violin notes, and going through a page of fast running sixteenth notes made my tongue sore. The trombone almost blew out my eardrums with his surprisingly loud voice. The percussion group was the most hilarious. We have a wide array of exotic Chinese percussion instruments, and they are all extensively used. So the percussionists tried to emulate the sound of their instruments and ended up sounding like they were making fun of Chinese names: Guang! Ching! Ding! Chia! Anyhow, the above-described chaos lasted for a few minutes before the musician in us took over. The violins started to sing the high notes in a lower key, and the melody was finally intelligible. Everyone else adjusted their volume levels to complement the other parts, and before we knew it, we had an a cappella orchestra rehearsal. The percussion parts were still funny though, nothing they could do about that. And just this way, we ran through our entire show. No kidding, we sang our music through for two hours straight.
Now back in the U.S., I'm really excited about our upcoming shows in North America and then our Europe tour. I can't wait to share our art with the rest of the world and, oddly enough, I'm kind of excited about the next bus rehearsal, too.
Well, check out our calendar so we can see you at one of our next performances! (this time with our instruments)
Violinist with the Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra
24 janvier 2011