This past Thursday, April 19th, 2024, students at International School had a unique opportunity to sit next to and learn from professional musicians visiting from Taiwan. The visiting One Song orchestra was started as a way to share the folk music of Taiwan through classical string music. To further International School’s progress towards Global Competencies, IS Orchestra director and teacher, Anna Silarski, was looking for ways to infuse multi-cultural classical music and folk songs into the orchestra curriculum. Initially, Taiwanese students in the orchestra struggled to find any music of Taiwanese origin. It was at this point that fellow IS teacher, Wesley Hung, utilized his connections in Taiwan’s classical music scene to facilitate this cross-cultural collaboration.

The collaboration proceeded when One Song’s founder and Maestro, Joe Lee (李哲藝), shared specially arranged Taiwanese folk songs for the IS orchestra to practice. These pieces were eventually showcased in the school’s March orchestra concert and subsequently at the Eastshore Music Region’s Orchestra I Festival.

Following the announcement that One Song would visit to Seattle in April, International School seized the opportunity to host the cultural exchange. The event saw One Song performing two of their compositions before listening to the IS orchestra’s rendition of Maestro Lee’s arrangements. The highlight of the day was a side-by-side rehearsal, where IS students had the unique chance to play alongside the professional musicians, receive guidance from Maestro Lee, and learn from their counterparts.

Witnessing IS students engage with the visiting musicians was truly remarkable, with instances such as the viola section conversing fluently in Mandarin with their Taiwanese counterparts and the One Song lead violinist telling students to loosen up and let the music flow through the instruments. This immersive experience left a lasting impression on both students and professionals alike, fostering cross-cultural understanding and musical growth that will resonate for years to come.


“I had the most fun in music class through this wonderful experience. We usually don’t get the opportunity to collaborate with a professional international chamber group and we learned a lot! I loved receiving pointers and tips from the cellists and working with them to improve our playing. The difference before and after working with them was night and day! This is an experience all orchestra students should experience.” (Ian Choy, senior)

“My experience with the One Song Orchestra was amazing. Listening to their amazing playing really tugged at my heartstrings and brought out my musical feelings. My experience sitting with a player and listening to them playing right next to me was amazing and having conversations with them in my native language really enlightened me. Overall, I had so much fun with One Song Orchestra and I really hope to have it again.” (Valerie Wang, junior)

“I had a really fun time working and learning with the One Song Orchestra yesterday. I liked how efficiently the conductor communicated and gave tips, as well as how the section leaders led their sections as well by providing feedback. Also, working with the orchestra (as in how they integrated themselves with us in the seating) helped a lot with understanding the tone, rhythm, and dynamics of the piece, I also had the opportunity to get a 1-on-1 session with one of their members which was really helpful. In addition to the masterclass they provided, it was honestly such a memorable experience to learn, share, and exchange culture. I felt so natural learning techniques in my own language– and also, of course, the language of music. I loved listening to them play and playing with them, I hope that I get this opportunity next year!” (Iris Zuo, sophomore)


Combined Orchestra Performance

Origin of One Song Orchestra News Story

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.