Both Divisions of the APAC Orchestra Perform Together for the First Time in History


For the first time in APAC history, all twelve APAC Orchestra teams from around the globe performed in one location for the final concert of the APAC Orchestra 2018 with consist of 180 musicians.

“This is a very exciting year for APAC, because they’ve moved out of their normal school performance environment to the concert hall in Forbidden City,” said Nicholas Meredith, the lead conductor of the Asian division of the orchestra.

“It was amazing to socialize with people you never met before, and within a few minutes, play like you’ve been practicing with each other for years,” said Grade 9 student Seoyeon Lee.

The APAC Orchestra is separated into Asian and Pacific divisions, which usually perform in different locations. This year, both divisions were hosted in Beijing, with the Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) hosting the Asian division and the International School of Beijing (ISB) hosting the Pacific division. This gave the orchestra the opportunity to perform together in the Forbidden City concert hall for the first time in history.

The event occurred from November 14th to 18th. UNIS is part of the Asian division, along with other schools from Korea, Japan, China, and Hong Kong (SFS, CA, SASP, and HKIS).

Two days filled with nine hours of rehearsals allowed the ensemble to prepare pieces of various styles and genres. For example, the Asian division played pieces by the European composer Jean Sibelius, and English composers such as Henry Purcell, Edward Elgar and Michael Tippett. The performance also featured pieces from movie soundtracks, such as John Williams’ “Duel of the Fates” from the movie “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace”.

“I’m so proud to be associated with the event, I’ve really enjoyed it. The rehearsals have gone well, and I’ve learned a lot and I hope the students learned a lot too,” Meredith said.

The performance took place on Saturday, the 17th of November from 4:30 to 6:00 PM. The Asian division performed their pieces first, which was followed by the Pacific division. After both divisions performed their pieces, they came together to perform a very special piece, “Eagle Huntress”.

“Eagle Huntress” is a piece composed specifically for APAC Orchestra 2018. This piece also has a special connection to the ensemble, as the composer of the piece, Sam Wu, used to be a violin player in APAC Orchestra when he was in high school.

“It’s so special one This year is the 20th anniversary of APAC, and I get to come back, as a conductor and composer. It’s just been such a wonderful experience,” Wu said.

“Eagle Huntress” was inspired by Mongolian traditions, particularly the story of a girl who is training her own eagle to hunt prey for her.

“Typically, hunting can be seen a male activity, but by making the hunter a huntress, it is much more interesting and it can be really fun if it is brought into a musical context,” Wu said.

“Eagle Huntress” was performed by the combined orchestra, which in total consists of around 180 musicians. This is the largest number of musicians playing the same piece in APAC history.

“Everything I write, I really try to write the piece that I want to listen to, and what I want to like. And this piece was no exception. I really tried hard to write the melody that I know I would like to hear,” Wu said.

The experience was a meaningful learning opportunity for UNIS students.

“This is my first time to go on the APAC [trip], and I think this is a really good experience for me, as an IB student, and I believe that I learned a lot from this event,” said Grade 11 student Menglin Luo.

Next year, APAC Orchestra 2019 will be hosted by Seoul Foreign School in Korea.