Emmy Award-Winning Composer Ashley Irwin on Shen Yun: ‘I’ve Learned A Lot’


Ashley Irwin, Emmy Award-winner and one of Hollywood’s most versatile composers and arrangers, very much enjoyed the performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts on April 15 in Hollywood, California.

“I think it’s wonderful. I love the fusion of the Chinese music with the western orchestra. And I love the way the music complements the dance. The energy of the dance and the grace of the dance is also in the music, which I think is very, very well done. And I love the colors; the colors are so alive. Everything is vivid.”

The performance “was not only entertainment,” according to Mr. Irwin, but also a cultural event.

“This was not only entertainment, but also the culture and history, and the classic nature of the Chinese culture, which was good to see.”

He also had high praise for the solo vocal performances, with Shen Yun’s award-winning vocalists signing Chinese text using the bel canto style, while the translation of the lyrics is projected on the backdrop.

“Reading the words on the screen, and it’s a very spiritual communication with the nature, which I was not aware of was part of Chinese culture either, so that was nice to learn. I’ve learned a lot today.”

Mr. Irwin said he enjoyed seeing traditional Chinese instruments, the erhu and the pipa, being part of the orchestra.

“I’ve written before for the erhu and pipa in some of my own compositions in film, and to hear it integrated with the orchestra is good, because most of the time I used [them] it [was] very much a solo instrument outside, so trying to make a kind of unique sound, whereas this fits much more into the orchestra, and you really have to listen for it, but it has a texture that is very different to the western instruments, and I like that.”

He said he highly recommends Shen Yun, especially to his fellow professionals.

“Very much, particularly for people in the music, film, television, video games, the music that I write for, because we are always looking to create other worlds. The nature of what we do is to create illusion, to create—to transport people with music to another place, and this show does that.”

Mandy Huang and Yiyuan Zhang, NTD News, in Hollywood, California contributed to this article.