Board President Describes Shen Yun as ‘A Labor of Love’

March 25, 2024

Nate Keller, founder and director of the American Folk Ensemble, and president of the Utah Valley Symphony, watched the Shen Yun Performing Arts on March 22 with seven of his siblings. As an artist himself, he says he appreciates the work and effort that goes into the performance.

“They’re playing a style that sounds reminiscent of classical, but it has all of the cultural, maybe folk tones that you hear when you go to folk festivals,” said Keller.

Shen Yun’s orchestra combines both Eastern and Western instruments to better capture the range of musical expression. The youngest of the Keller siblings, Crissy Keller Hunt, was mesmerized by the two-stringed Erhu.

“I especially loved the instrument with the two strings. I was blown away,” said Hunt. “As an instrumentalist myself, I thought, wow. I would love to see that instrument in person and learn more about it.”

“I’m grateful that excellence like this exists and that they’re willing to come out and tour so that all of us can see it,” said Keller. “And so it’s a lot of work, and I know this because I do these kinds of things, and it takes a lot of effort, and it’s more of a labor of love than probably a money-making venture. So it’s important for them to do this, and I hope they continue forever.”

Shen Yun’s mission is to revive an ancient culture that was nearly lost under the Chinese Communist Party. “I feel like I would love to learn more about the history and culture of China and what these people have been through and it helps me to appreciate the freedoms that I experience here in America,” Hunt. “And seeing that these people want to come here because they want to experience those freedoms helps me have such a gratitude for my country.”

“America is known for their religious freedom. That’s why they came here really to begin with,” said Keller. “And so in China, because that’s been kind of taken out of the people, they don’t have as much hope, I think, and it keeps them from being really, connective as a people. So bringing that back into them when that’s the origin story for them is beautiful.”

“There’s many Chinese and Asians in the United States who need to be reconnected as we all need to be reconnected with our roots and our culture,” said Russell Bingham, Principal Logistics Planner at Northrop Grumman.

NTD News, Salt Lake City, Utah