Grammy–winning Musician Can’t Say Enough About Shen Yun

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The heart of country music opened its arms to Shen Yun Performing Arts, a music and dance company enriching a city that loves music with a cultural experience of a country from clear across the globe.

Although Shen Yun is based in New York, it brings Chinese culture, 5,000 years of it, to the world.

Glen Duncan, a Nashville regular knows what goes into making a spectacular performance and making wonderful music. The Grammy Award-winning studio musician was thrilled seeing Shen Yun.

“Just a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful thing. I love the music. I love all the dance and everything. It is just a great experience. It takes me to a wonderful place,” he said.

“I am watching something that represents thousands of years of development,” said Mr. Duncan, who attended the Tennessee Performing Arts Center with his wife and son on May 1.

In less than 20 short programs, Shen Yun brings the values of ancient China to life on stage, mostly by stories told through classical Chinese dance.

The musician was amazed by the coordination of the dancers with the digitally animated backdrops.

“Years ago, when I used to tour, we would often have dancers as part of our shows when we were in Las Vegas. … So, I know what kind of work goes into that kind of production. It is just amazing to see that level of performance and the level of professionalism. I mean, I cannot imagine how much time it takes to rehearse all of that. And it is flawless. It is just totally flawless, just really, really great,” he said.

Mr. Duncan won the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental. For other prestigious awards he has multiple wins as fiddler of the year, awards for song of the year, and for album of the year.

From “somebody who … knows about the behind-the-scene stuff that goes into putting on a show like this, I was absolutely floored by the quality of the precision, … It is the precision dancing, the precision music, the pacing of the music with the dancing, it was flawless. And that’s the way the whole, the way the whole show struck me, and it spoke to me, from the beginning to the end,” he said.

Mr. Duncan has recorded with “everybody from Elton John, Bob Segar, to—I just recorded with Christiana Aguilera.”

This is the best I have ever seen.
— Glen Duncan
“Dolly Parton … Tim McGraw, … for the last 30 plus years, I have been doing that, working in the studio in Nashville, and I was absolutely blown away by the show. It was great. Everything about it, I love everything about it. The music is fabulous, the dancing is absolutely the best I have ever seen,” he said.

The dancers are accompanied by a live orchestra, but Mr. Duncan said he was 25 minutes into the performance before he realized the music was live. “It was that good. And I mean, not just that [it was] well-performed, but the mix and everything else, I really … I thought I was listening to a recording. It was that great.”

It spoke to everything that I believe that is good in this world.
— Glen Duncan
Mr. Duncan plays all of the string instruments, and listening to the music he was struck repeatedly by the universal quality of what he was hearing: “It speaks to whole underlining theme that it is all universal. And we are all in this world together. And that’s the thing. it was so uplifting to me, too. … [It was] very emotional for me, and my son, too, for my wife, because it spoke to everything that I believe that is good in this world.”

“I mean it was so good, that I didn’t want it to end,” he said.

Mr. Duncan explained that two things make a show great. First, when you leave you should have a warm, positive feeling inside: “I remember years ago, somebody told me, they said, if you can … give somebody an emotional response, in the listeners or the patrons, … and change their mood seven times, it is a good show.

“Every single piece changes your mood,” he said of Shen Yun. “It looks to me like a lot of love went into the production. People are so proud of their heritage, as they should be, and to share that with the rest of the world. It is a great thing to see,” he said.

Second, is the show’s pacing: “I cannot say enough about that, because every piece was like, the right length, and that is really hard to do. For a show that has that many separate pieces, for every piece to feel just right… and the way everything was programmed was just as impressive to me … It’s a tour de force …”

“We cannot wait to come back next year, you know, it is that good. So, everybody needs to see the show. They will love it. And [I’ll] tell all the artists, how much I was impressed by their work. I am a fan,” he said.

“I am serious,” he emphasized. “This is on our itinerary. We are just going to go ahead and book it. We are going to buy the tickets the next time it comes up. We are coming every year and you should too, you should come every year,” he said.

Reporting by Sherry Dong and Sharon Kilarski

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.

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