International Schools Celebrate with Music Festival
The American School in London (ASL) played host to a group of 200 student singers and musicians from 46 schools around the globe who performed at the High School Honor Band & Mixed Choir Festival, held on 22nd March. This event, sponsored by The Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS), is held annually along with several other festivals “which are especially designed to benefit students in international schools.” Their recitals are held across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Organiser Warren Rusher says concerts are always held to “showcase exceptional musical talent,” but this one also coincided with the retirement of AMIS founders Richard and Georgia Bassett. The Bassett’s planned the inaugural international schools concert while working as teachers at ASL 39 years ago. They were able to increase the “scope and reputation” of the concerts every year, and in 1994 they left ASL to begin AMIS.
The non-profit is named for the Bassett’s belief that musical experience leads to people becoming lifelong “amis,” a French word for friends. AMIS dedicates itself to “the promotion of excellence at all levels of music education.” The group seeks mainly to advance the education of students and teachers around the world by developing their appreciation of music, increasing their understanding of global issues and cultural diversity with music education, and promoting “high standards of musical performance in school pupils of all ages and abilities throughout the world.”
ASL started in 1951 when American journalist and former teacher, Stephen L. Eckard, was encouraged by his co-workers at the North American Service of the BBC to begin a school that followed American curriculums. Classes began with 13 students learning in Eckard’s Knightsbridge flat. The school now educates 1,350 children from kindergarten through their senior year of high school, with over 50 nationalities represented by the student body.
The school’s mission is to “develop the intellect and character of each student by providing an outstanding American education with a global perspective.” Their four prong vision for excellence includes encouraging “students to think critically, to take risks and to be creative,” helping them “develop integrity and strength of character,” cultivating “respect for individual and cultural differences” and challenging pupils “to find passion and purpose beyond themselves.”
Rusher says they promoted the festival through the mailing lists of all involved schools, a method which proved especially effective since they were able to gather over 700 attendees on the night.
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