Presented by the Falun Dafa Association of Toronto
Whether it’s for dumplings and dim sum, Lunar New Year celebrations or the annual Dragon Boat Festival, Toronto comes together to celebrate traditional Chinese culture year-round.
Next month, the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra returns to Toronto with a unique mix of traditional Chinese music alongside works from the classical music canon. Few cities can pull off an east-meets-west bash as Shen Yun can, and the performance promises to add to Toronto’s cultural vibrancy.
Here are some other things Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra will bring to Toronto audiences on October 5:
1: Treat your parents
It’s hard to find a single present that will repay the value of all those years of piano or ballet. Still, bringing mom and dad to see the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra is a meaningful way to say “thanks” for all they have done in your childhood.
2: It’s a statement to Toronto’s status as the most multicultural city in the world
According to the 2016 federal census, Toronto is home to the highest number of Chinese-heritage residents in Canada. Whether you want to know more about Chinese culture or want to gather with others who share your roots, a Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra performance is the ideal gathering place.
3: Take a break from urban clutter, heal your soul.
Like traditional Chinese culture, the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s music aims to align spiritual and physical well-being. The delicate five-note pentatonic scale will guide listeners to this elevated state – upon leaving a Shen Yun concert, many people notice a boost to their mood and health.
4: Take a stroll through nature
Classical greats like Beethoven turned to nature to find inspiration. Similarly, Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra will perform pieces evoking Mongolian grassland, snow capped Tibetan mountain, and the painting like South China mountain and water. Maybe this performance will inspire a road trip to explore the great Canadian outdoors — this is the perfect time to see some brilliant fall colours.
5: It’s a show-and-tell of ancient Chinese instruments
At every Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra performance, musicians play traditional Chinese instruments that are among the oldest among world cultures.
The gong is a powerful instrument, but is also capable of delicate nuances and more intimate expression. Though it frequently appears in Western orchestras, it is actually native to China.
The pipa (pronounced “PEE-pa”) responds to a wide range of playing techniques, producing both masculine and feminine tones. Its measurements are symbolic: at 3 feet 5 inches, it is connected with the five elemental qualities and represents man’s relationship to the dual worlds of heaven and earth.
The erhu (pronounced “AHR-hoo”) figures prominently among Chinese instruments, and is capable of a wide range of tones and emotions on just two strings.
6: When was the last time you saw a female concertmaster?
Audience members will see Astrid Martig lead the multicultural, multigenerational Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra. In Canada, there are an increasing number of female concertmasters at the helm of major orchestras in Montreal (Orchestre Métropolitain), Kitchener-Waterloo, Ottawa, Calgary and Winnipeg. Here’s hoping Toronto can join the ranks!
7: It’s gotten Elizabeth Raum’s attention
Chinese history was made up of dynasties, and here in Canada, the Raum family forms one of the country’s modern pillars in classical music: in addition to violinist and professor Erika Raum, her mother Elizabeth Raum is an active composer.
“I was blown away by the audience reaction, I don’t think I’ve ever seen three standing ovations!” Elizabeth Raum had recalled about the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra. Fun fact: Ms. Raum plays the oboe – an instrument which will also be featured in the Orchestra’s performance in Toronto.
8: A tasteful Canadian Thanksgiving
Toronto is the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra’s only Canadian stop, and it coincides with the Thanksgiving weekend. Celebrate the spirit of sharing music and experiences with Shen Yun – while leaving time for Thanksgiving meal prep later in the long weekend. We think the performance will make for great conversation at the dinner table.
9: Gather song ideas for the next dinner party
Speaking of special occasions, this will be an excellent opportunity to gather soundtrack ideas. The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra will perform standards from the classical music repertoire such as Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, Wagner’s Imperial March and Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy.
10: Fresh new commissions
Once again this year, Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra has revitalized their musical selections. With new pieces commissioned especially for the 2018 tour, the performance highlights Chinese history, solos by ethnic instruments, and other elements of their traditional culture. Even if you’ve seen their performances in previous years, these fresh additions will put a spin on past years’ shows.
Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra performs at Roy Thomson Hall on Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets begin at $39.
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