MS CEESA Choir Festival

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They say that music is the international language and they are right. February 5-9, 2020 saw The International School of Belgrade’s upper school campus double in size as we welcomed 130 students, directors and chaperones for the annual Middle School CEESA Choir Festival. The music festivals are a unique part of CEESA as they are the only events on the CEESA calendar that are not tournaments. All students from the participating schools come together to learn the same music and sing in one final concert at the host school, showcasing friendship, dedication, and the joy that music brings into our lives. 
 
 
Students from eleven schools around the CEESA region met at The International School of Belgrade for three days of singing, laughing, and learning.  Many schools had been preparing for several months either in after school clubs or in the choral classroom to learn such beautiful songs as ‘Wau Bulan,’ by Tracy Wong, ‘Ad Astra’ by Jacob Narverud and ‘This Is Your Time’ by J. Norris Reese.  Students rehearsed together and in sectionals under the direction of Mr. Jason Drahos from the Anglo-American School of Moscow.  The final concert was presented at the Belgrade Philharmonic on Saturday night to a packed audience.  Concert-goers were impressed by the level of musicianship of the young singers and were especially delighted by the performance of the Serbian folk song ‘Niška Banja’ arranged by Nick Page.  
 
Hosting this festival was such an incredible experience for the students and community of the International School of Belgrade.  We were admittedly nervous when planning began, wondering how our small school would handle the extra numbers for a four-day festival.  With the help of our host families, our dedicated facilities manager, the flexibility of teachers and staff, as well as the effort and energy put in by the visiting directors and chaperones, the festival went off without a hitch.  Students were even heard saying that they enjoyed singing in the gym on the bleachers, instead of conventional choral risers, because they got to sit down more.  The choral and band festivals are usually held at larger CEESA schools, but hosting a successful festival just goes to show that the small schools can host large events as well. 
 
Kelli Horner
 
MYP Performing Arts
Festival Director