APAC Orchestra 2015


While UNIS had the honor of hosting the APAC Choir, the three day festival of singing and performing, almost 2000 km away another kind of music performance was being celebrated: the string orchestra.

This year, APAC Orchestra was hosted at SAS-PD, in Pudong, the outskirts of Shanghai. A group of 14 UNIS students (myself included) traveled since early Wednesday morning, carrying their cumbersome instruments and the dread of performing some of the hardest pieces of music they ever faced – after three months of practice, we now realized that there is no more time to procrastinate.

Some say that APAC Orchestra isn’t a competition, and in theory, it isn’t. However, in reality, if you’re placed at the back row and caught faking through half the pieces, that wouldn’t have been so fun. So, as a result of pure peer pressure and personal pride, every player pushed themselves to become better – and better, we became. In the first rehearsal, I practically sat out on the easiest piece because of the sheer speed of it. By the end, I was going through the hardest piece almost as well as my stand partner, a violist from Brent International School of Manila, who seemed to know what she was doing from day 1; speaking of which, I realized that the festival was also an excellent place to watch and learn from students from other schools, many of which are extremely talented (and, I must admit, better than us).

But for the majority of us who can not possibly be perfect on every single note, the festival sure helped us get closer. For three grueling days, we practiced from eight to five in the large group, in sections, and even at our home stays – we were so delirious from practice every afternoon, that it only took the short walk to the buses before everybody was asleep, only to find ourselves practicing again after waking up.

But that’s not to say the experience wasn’t great. We got to visit the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum on Friday night – to be more specific, the massive subterranean market under it. For the unaware, the corridor may have seemed like a subway entrance. In reality, it was an entrance to a maze of stalls selling electronics, fabrics, toys, souvenirs, food, and hundreds of other trinkets, all from dubious origins – it’s not everyday that we see a Batman action figure in an “Age of Ultron” action figure set. And other nights, we visited local restaurants – one that stuck particularly to my mind was a Spanish restaurant that had Italian food, Japanese interior decorating, French wine, and Chinese chefs (their food is good though).

All of this ended with the final concert – the culmination of 3 months of work, at the end of three days of intense practice. Though the audience was rather lackluster (around thirty people), the experience was what’s important – because there, we improved on our skills, we made new friends, and we visited new places.

So, perhaps you’d like to join APAC Orchestra next year! Granted, you’d have to be half decent at a stringed instrument – but if you are, then there really is no reason not to try. And if you really can’t wait until next year, come join us now! The High School Orchestra is starting soon (3rd of December, to be exact), and anyone can join – though, of course, the ability to play a stringed instrument always helps. (For more information, contact Mr. DallaGrana.)