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NAPAC Musicians 2019

Magic moments at the NAPAC Orchestral Festival

The Nord Anglia Performing Arts China Orchestral Festival is a huge celebration of music, bringing together some of the best young musicians from Nord Anglia's China schools. Hosted in Shanghai, the 4-day event saw over a hundred students perform together for the first time. Here, Federica Yee (Year 8) tells her story of the experience.

  • NAPAC Musicians 2019
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Wednesday dawned bright and pleasant. After we went through the usual boring airport procedures (checking in, security, and so on), we were seated in a plane from China Southern Airlines and soaring through the air to Shanghai.

When we arrived, a short bus trip brought us to the Holiday Inn, the hotel we were staying in. The rest of the day was devoted to free time (mostly on our phones!) after we checked in, and for dinner, we went to a lovely restaurant with lots of delicious food!

On Thursday, we all woke up at six, packed up the necessary items (such as music sheets) we needed for the day and were down on the first floor for breakfast at seven. We met many students from other schools, although we didn’t really interact or make friends with them until we arrived at BISS Puxi, where the fun started.

The Head of Music there, Mr Morris, gave us a talk about the itinerary for the day and introduced us to our conductor, Oliver Hagen. I was so enthusiastic about working with someone from the Juiliard School, and it was a good thing it didn’t go to waste; his conducting style was unique and extremely helpful, not to mention that it stopped us from getting too bored during the rigorous hours of rehearsals that followed. Another thing that prevented us from going round the bend was the frequent breaks we had, and the interesting workshops we participated in. I myself was involved in the Beginner Dance workshop, which was great fun!

The same structure went for Friday, except the rehearsals, especially the sectionals, were becoming increasingly thorough, meticulous, and painstaking. Why? Concert day was tomorrow, so we had no time to waste! Despite leaving us exhausted, with aching fingers, calluses, and, in the wind and brass players’ cases, shortness of breath and painful mouths, the rehearsals were also nothing short of entertaining and fruitful, thanks to Hagen and the other hardworking participants. Later, a visit to the theater, our concert venue, was in order. It was a very nice place, particularly when the lights were turned off, revealing the starry ceiling.

If you’re a musical person, you’d probably understand when I say that it was truly magical to hear all our instruments, all of us, unite to produce a performance of pieces that have been delivered so many times in every century. Federica Yee

Everyone’s nerves were put to the test on Saturday; the day of the concert had arrived. Who wouldn’t be nervous? I certainly was. Rehearsals and sectionals, as thorough as ever, made up most of the day (as well as the brief breaks). To get us used to the venue, the rehearsals were held in the theater. As the time for the concert neared, everyone grew more tense than they ever had been. I knew what they were thinking; they were scared of making mistakes, which is natural; they tarnish your professionality.

The Intermediate Orchestra delivered their performance first. Judging from the loud cheering and clapping, they had done well. Could we do the same? The answer was yes! As soon as we moved onto the stage, settled into our positions and started the first piece, all our worries melted away and we just enjoyed ourselves. I was hardly aware of the audience; all I could see was my bow moving deftly across the cello, my fingers working away, my sheet music, and the other people in the orchestra exerting every ounce of effort and concentration they possibly could. Our last piece was finished with a magnificent flourish, and we stood to the applauding audience. I felt so relieved, but a little sad at the same time; everything had gone well, but soon it would be time for us to separate. We would be leaving new friends, teachers, Hagen, and, in my case, instruments (I had rented a cello and it served me quite well during these three days).

On the last day of the festival, we packed everything up, made our way down to breakfast, and bade many goodbyes and exchanged contacts with the other students. We checked out, made our way to the airport, went through the usual airport procedures, and finally boarded the plane back to Guangzhou. My parents were so happy to see me (and I was happy to see them also) and they told me how proud they were of how hard I worked during the festival and how well I performed.

My experience in the Orchestral Festival is definitely one I’m not going to forget. I am certainly going to the Orchestral Festival next year!