We arrived to very humid weather and were taken on a short journey to our hotel on Discovery Bay island with our instruments in one piece ready to meet the students from the other ten schools involved. We had time to check out our surroundings and speak to others at the festival before joining everyone for a banquet in the evening.
On Saturday morning, no time was wasted and we were sat in our positions in the orchestra at Discovery Bay School ready to start rehearsals by 8.30am. We started off working in sectionals where various instrumental groups worked separately on the music with a teacher leading in a different room.
Our professional conductor from Canada, Ken Hseih, arrived from Guangzhou in China by early afternoon. Everyone then came together to begin the first full orchestral rehearsals. We had some really challenging pieces to work on together, 'Brandenburg Concert No.3' for strings, John Barnes Chance 'Korean Folk Song' for concert band and Sibelius 'Finlandia', Tcaikovsky 'Symphony No.5' and Grieg, 'Hall of the Mountain King' for full orchestra. We rehearsed all day and then finished with a barbeque and walk along the beach to the Plaza.
Sunday was another full day of rehearsals. Again students worked on pieces in sectionals and then spent the rest of the time in full orchestra. Our students were really tired towards the end of the day, but still kept working hard to make sure they could play the pieces to a high standard. We finished off the day with a trip to the peak to see the lights of Hong Kong city skyline and do some souvenir shopping.
Monday was our concert day, so for the final rehearsals we moved to the Discovery Bay Community Hall where the concert was to take place. We went through the tricky parts of the music in the morning together and then did a full run through at 3pm before heading back to the hotel to get showered and smartly dressed in black for the concert.
The concert started at 6.30pm and the students did us very proud. Every piece sounded fantastic and it was truly amazing to see the quality of performance put together in such a short space of time. To think that these students didn't even know each other a week ago but still managed to produce something of such a high standard was outstanding.
After our hugely successful concert, we headed to The Sienna Club next to the hotel to enjoy a meal and have some fun. Our BIS students even managed to get some selfies with the conductor!
A hugely enjoyable experience for both students and staff, we can't wait to take part again next year!
Emma Husband, Music Teacher at An Phu Secondary
Some quotes from the students:
"It was an amazing experience to play music with 10 other schools in Asia. Tcaikovsky's Symphony No.5 was the most challenging piece I have ever played". John Lee
"I liked working with talented musicians and the conductor. I liked the concert as well because we could express ourselves through the music and the concert was brilliant". Sam Jencks
"This was my first FOBISIA Music trip. It was a really interesting experience and we had fun making new friends. I really want to try more trips like this one". Jina Jeon
"I had a great experience. I met new friends and my violin skills improved". Tiffany Hwang
"The FOBISIA Orchestral Festival has been amazing. This has to be one of the most memorable experiences in my BIS life. Even though the pieces were hard, we still managed to put on an absolutely stunning performance by persevering". Christine Le