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Shen Yun Performing Arts

Produced by Karen Smyles


February 2011

Shen Yun Performing Arts is based in New York and considered to be the world's premier classical Chinese dance and music company. The company's members are mostly ethnic Chinese who grew up in the West. Shen Yun's mission is to revive the spirit of traditional Chinese culture. In this month's segment of Art of Life we visit with the Chin family of Camden County, New Jersey. All of the family members are accomplished musicians who are now devoting their talent to Shen Yun Performing Arts.

Ying Chen was born into a family of elite Chinese musicians, and studied flute performance at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music's preparatory school for six years. In 1988, she relocated to the United States to study under Murray Panitz, principal flutist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, while attending the Esther Boyer College of Music at Temple University on scholarship. She has previously toured with Shen Yun Performing Arts as a flutist and been a part of its artistic staff, in which capacity she composed two pieces for the company. In 2008, she was appointed conductor of the Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company Orchestra.

Ying was destined to become a musician as she was inspired at a young age by her mother Ningfang Chen. Designated a "National First-Class Performer" of China, Ningfang Chen was for over 30 years a member of China's Central Philharmonic Orchestra, during which time she held concurrent posts as an instructor of flute at the Central Philharmonic Society's conservatory, Beijing Normal University, and Beijing Concert Hall. Ms. Chen currently serves as orchestra manager of the Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra, for which she is also a principal flutist.

Growing up with and watching her father Rutang Chen, Ying Chen was inspired to become a conductor and says she still looks to him for pointers on improving her own craft. Rutang Chen graduated from Hubei College of the Arts and then went on to conduct and manage China's Central Philharmonic Orchestra. He was also a cellist with the orchestra for approximately 30 years, earning him the designation "National First Class Performer." In addition to serving as conductor for the Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra he has also conducted the Central Philharmonic Society Chorus, the Inner Mongolia Broadcast Performing Arts Troupe Orchestra and is currently with the Divine Land Marching Band.

Lastly, Ying's brother Galen Chen plays the bassoon with the orchestra and has composed many pieces for Shen Yun performances. Galen credits Shen Yun Performing Arts with helping him to realize the beauty in all art forms and finds inspiration in the positive messages.