Chinese Americans stress today that they are Americans that originated in Chinese culture – loyal US citizens that want to enrich their new country from Chinese historical original sources. On Sandy Sunday coincidentally they launched at Carnegie Hall their newest project – the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra.
The Background of the Founding of the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra: The Orchestra is part of the The New York based Shen Yun Performing Arts established in 2006 following the 2001 founded NTD – New Tang Dynasty TV project. These are projects in which the Vhinese -American Communittee reaserts itself. Shen Yun started as a display of traditional Chinese dance accompanied by Chinese music. Out Of the music groups of the Shen Yun now grew the full fledged Symphony Orchestra.
ABOUT NTD AS TOLD BY NTD: Headquartered in New York City, New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television serves more than 100 million potential viewers globally. NTD’s flagship news lineup strives to provide insightful coverage of China with the highest ethical standards of Western journalism.
NTD broadcasts directly into parts of Mainland China, in Chinese, via satellite, providing truthful information about China and the world – an uncensored alternative to China’s state-run, and state-slanted, media.
NTD’s cultural programs and Global Competition Series also aim to revive traditional culture undermined by communist rule. Through web, iNTD mobile application, satellite, cable channels and anti-censorship iPPOTV, NTD deliveries diversified content anywhere around the world.
I was told further that NTD was established in 2001 following the reality that in China there was a good feeling about the 9/11 attack – this because it was viewed as an effort to show that the US is not omnipotent. It was a group of Chinese-Americans with means, Falun Gong practitioners, that sponsored the establishing of this TV Channel in order to create a focal source to tell the people of China world realities.
Since its founding, NTD has expanded to include English, Spanish, Japanese, French, and a few other language editions. Its content offerings include news and analysis, arts and culture, travel, entertainment news, health and lifestyle, and children’ programming.
The station’s critical reporting on the Communist Party of China has prompted censorship by China and alleged interference with its reporting and business operations by the Chinese Government.
EPOCH TIMES is the print and internet media connected to NTD TV. Their website says: Having witnessed events like Tiananmen Square and the persecution of the spiritual group Falun Gong, and at a great risk to themselves and their loved ones, a group of Chinese-Americans started publishing The Epoch Times in the Chinese language in the U.S. Some reporters in China were jailed, and some suffered severe torture.
Integrity and truthfulness in reporting, together with the stories that really matter, are cornerstones to The Epoch Times.
The first newspaper was published in New York in May 2000, with the web launch in August 2000. Local editions published by regional bureaus soon followed, making it the largest of any Chinese-language newspaper outside of Mainland China and Taiwan. Thus the Chinese original paper pre-dates the establishing of the NTD TV, but the English version was started at the same time as NTD TV.
The first English edition launched online in 2003 followed by the first print edition in 2004. The Epoch Times staff has an unwavering commitment to objective reporting and socially responsible business practices, as well as respect for human rights and freedom. From our own website and media experience, we noted Epoch Times as it started out in New York because it had an excellent Environmental page. Later we learned that Epoch Times could not get a UN Media accreditation because of China objection.
Today, The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages – in 35 countries across five continents. These include print and web editions in Chinese, English, German, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Russian, Japanese, Korean and Indonesian, as well as web versions in Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Czech, Slovak, Vietnamese, Swedish, Turkish, and Portuguese.
Falun Gong or Falun Dafa (literally means “Dharma Wheel Practice“) is a spiritual discipline first introduced in China in 1992 through public lectures by its founder, Li Hongzhi. It combines the practice of meditation and slow-moving qigong exercises with a moral philosophy. Falun Gong emphasizes morality and the cultivation of virtue in its central tenets of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, and identifies as a qigong practice of the Buddhist school, though its teachings also incorporate elements drawn from Taoist traditions. Through moral rectitude and the practice of meditation, practitioners of Falun Gong aspire to better health and, ultimately, spiritual enlightenment.
Falun Gong emerged at the end of China’s “qigong boom”—a period which saw the proliferation of similar practices of meditation, slow-moving exercises and regulated breathing. It differs from other qigong schools in its absence of fees or formal membership, lack of daily rituals of worship, its greater emphasis on morality, and the theological nature of its teachings. Western academics have described Falun Gong as a qigong discipline, a “spiritual movement” based on the teachings of its founder, a “cultivation system” in the tradition of Chinese antiquity, and sometimes a religion or new religious movement.
Although the practice initially enjoyed considerable support from Chinese officialdom, by the mid- to late-1990s, the Communist Party and public security organs increasingly viewed Falun Gong as a potential threat due to its size, independence from the state, and spiritual teachings. By 1999, some estimates placed the number of Falun Gong adherents in the tens of millions.
On 20 July 1999, after three years of mounting tensions between the Falun Gong group in China and the Chinese government, the Communist Party leadership initiated a nationwide crackdown and multifaceted propaganda campaign intended to eradicate the practice. In October 1999 it declared Falun Gong a “heretical organization” and blocked Internet access to websites that mention Falun Gong. Human rights groups report that Falun Gong practitioners in China are subject to a wide range of human rights abuses; hundreds of thousands are believed to have been imprisoned extrajudicially, and practitioners in detention are subject to forced labor, psychiatric abuse, torture, and other coercive methods of thought reform at the hands of Chinese authorities. In the years since the suppression campaign began, Falun Gong adherents have emerged as a prominent voice in the Chinese dissident community, advocating for greater human rights and an end to Communist Party rule.
Li Hongzhi has lived in the United States since 1996, and Falun Gong has a sizable global constituency; inside China, some sources estimate that millions may continue to practice Falun Gong in spite of suppression. Hundreds of thousands are believed to practice Falun Gong outside China across some 70 countries worldwide.
I was told that in a short way – the concept at the base of these organizations is – GIVE A VOICE TO THE VOICELESS. So, clearly, this is very political.
The above introduction comes to explain that there is a link between the cultural aspects of SHEN YUN and a religious-political movement that the leaders of communist China saw as potential competition for the minds of the people. Many of the persecuted Falun Gong practitioners fled and appreciate the freedom they enjoy in new lands, but immersed in an attempt to hold on to the original, pre-communist culture of China, they came up with the cultural institutions we mentioned here.
Based in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts was established in 2006 with the specific mission of reviving 5,000 years of as stated – “divinely inspired” Chinese culture.
SHEN YUN is translated as “the beauty of the divine” and the idea is that this dance and music aspire to achieve an experience so profound, beautiful and joyful that it evokes a sense of the heavens.
After more than 60 years of Communist rule in China, and especially after the Cultural Revolution, Chinese traditional culture has been all but completely demolished. However, the deeper spiritual core of the ancient culture, with its values of benevolence, honor, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the gods and the heavens, cannot be destroyed.
In order to restore and revive Chinese traditional culture, a group of overseas Chinese artists established Shen Yun in New York in 2006. About 90 artists embarked on Shen Yun’s tour in 2007, in the first year, including a dance troupe, an orchestra, solo singers and musicians, emcees, and production staff. By 2009, Shen Yun had already grown to three performance troupes and orchestras of comparable size. Today, Shen Yun counts many winners of international dance and vocal competitions among its artists, and the orchestras include many musicians from world-renowned symphonies and conservatories.
Shen Yun Performing Arts’ rapid growth has enabled it to reach all corners of the globe. The group will only continue to expand, and in the not-too-distant future, Shen Yun will have many companies touring around the world simultaneously. Shen Yun has become thus a diaspora based Chinese old culture Ambassador to the World – to be in this position until complete freedom will be allowed in China; on the other hand, enjoying the freedoms in their new lands makes Shen Yun also into a tool of their new hosts, like America, as they enrich the stew of these host countries as well.
THE SHEN YUN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA DEBUT AT CARNEGIE HALL, OCTOBER 28, 2012:
This is a full size symphonic orchestra that presented regular classic music as well as the chinese music they want to preserve – doing this they will find a way to the normal orchestra circuit and not be dependent only on pure Chinese audiences – then, clearly, Chinese audiences want to hear also this other repertoir.
The concert was opened by the orchestra playing The Star-Spangled Banner that was not followed by the Chinese anthem – clearly a sign that this was an AMERICAN ORCHESTRA or if you wish a Chinese-American started orchestra – not of Chinese government inspiration.
There were three co-conductors – but it was clear that the main conductor was the Soviet educated Bulgarian-American Milen Nachev. In addition there were Keng-Wei Kuo who hails from Taiwan, and Dr. Antonia Joy Wilson who is an established conductor of her own, but also the wife of Mr. Nachev.
The repertoir included Vivaldi, Rimsky Korsakov, and Beethoven and 13 Chinese compositions but what I looked for was who conducts what and was very pleased to see that Mr. Kuo did not get all the Chinese music.
So it Mr. Nachev who conducted “What is the Meaning of Life?,” “”Honor Your vow,” “Hope of Returning Home,” “The Purpose of Life,” “The Song in my Heart,” and “Divine Compassion” who was a World Premiere and is by Junyi Tan and Y. Deng.
Dr. Wilson conducted “No Regret.” This left only six compositions for Mr. Kuo.
Five of the pieces that Mr. Nachev conducted are based on old texts and are presented in the program also in English translation.
The remaining two compositions not conducted by Mr. Kuo are defined as Pieces with Modern Themes and are only instrumental music.
Thus “No regret” begins with a cheerful folk melody representing life in a village. Then the police arrives to make an arrest on the basis of beliefs. They catch the fugitive and beat him to death. Then divine fairies come to take him to heaven.
“Divine Compassion” is even more pointed as is about the Falun Dafa as power of good in fight with evil in order to transform the world. The forces of good triumph at the end and a new era and blessing and prosperity begins for humankind.
Another instrumental piece that attracted my attention was by Yuan Gao and was described as Tibetan-Inspired Music. It is called “Khata for the Gods.” Khata is the white scarf that is presented in a gesture of respect. This Khata is offered to Buddha. This is a song of hope for the harvest next year. Was there also a political meaning? Perhaps.
In the vocal parts – the two sopranos and the three tenors were all Chinese and had very good voices.
The only other stand-outs were the two excellent trumpets in the Vivaldi piece and I was surprised to see that they returned to the orchestra and were not outsiders. One of them is Alexander Wilson and I wonder if he is not related to the the pair of conductors. The other is Kaspar Maertig from Germany. Both of them are members of Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra.