The ninth annual Festival of Choirs was hosted by The American International School of Muscat (TAISM) at its beautiful campus recently. The musical event, established at the school in 2004, is inspired by a vision of TAISM’s HS Choral Music Teacher, Melanie Brink. Since its beginnings, the Festival has created opportunities for international schools in the region to collaborate in the development of choral music programmes.
This year more than 220 choral music students — representing 60 nationalities from international schools in nine countries including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kenya, Bangladesh, Jordan, Kuwait, Ethiopia and Oman — joined their voices in the Festival of Choirs event over two extraordinary days on the TAISM campus. The crowning event of the Festival was the Grand Finale Concert, with hundreds of music lovers in the audience, enthralled with the sound of the massed choir.
The participating students take home musical memories that last a lifetime, and choral teachers who attended the Festival as chaperones, gained valuable knowledge as they observed an outstanding guest conductor working with the singers.
This year’s Guest Conductor was Dr Sandra Peter from Minnesota, USA. Dr Peters is an Assistant Professor of Music at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, where she directs the Cathedral Choir (100 sophomores, mixed voices) and Aurora (100 first-year women). Dr Peter holds degrees from Concordia College (Moorhead), University of Arizona and the University of Iowa. She is an active member of American Choral Directors Association and the College Music Society. She is a published arranger with the Neil Kjos Company and Morningstar Music.
A unique feature of the Festival is its openness to all singers within schools. Instead of requiring individuals to audition, Festival of Choirs offers the chance for a full, or only part of a school choir to connect with other choral ensembles. This provides the participating schools the opportunity to learn from the Festival and take this experience back to their home campuses to strengthen their own school programmes.
The Festival of Choirs has become an outstanding example of how international schools can unite their abilities to create a better understanding of the human spirit through music, as music is the universal language.
Most importantly, it continues to celebrate the diversity of the international students, as they come together in a collective effort to make global music.