“Amis” (pronounced [ah-mee]), or “friends” in French, is just one of the few things that high school participants gained upon returning home from their week-long trip to Luxembourg.
From March 17th to March 19th, the best of the best from all over the world participated in one of the most highly regarded international music festivals in the world: the AMIS (Association for Music in International Schools) Honor Band and Orchestra Festival.
AMIS is an organization that is “dedicated to the promotion of excellence at all levels of music education,” as stated on the official AMIS website, and allows for international school students to gather annually to produce high quality music with some of the best student musicians from every part of the globe. It consists of 3-day festivals which are hosted in international schools in both Europe and Asia, and is inclusive of all sectors of music: chorus, band, orchestra, jazz, etc.
This year, the Honor Band and Orchestra Festival was hosted by the International School of Luxembourg (ISL). Both band and orchestra participants partook in a blind audition for the event, meaning that their acceptance depended solely on the skill, technique, tone, and quality of their instrument. They board is very selective, however, and only accepts around 100 players for both band and orchestra. This, though harsh, also means that the groups are filled with the top 100 high school instrumentalists from all over the world.
After months of individual preparation, students from Budapest to Singapore to Abu Dhabi to Myanmar all gathered in the beautiful city of Luxembourg to put together a total of nine different pieces of music (five for band, three for orchestra, and one for the symphony orchestra). At the end of the festival, three arduous days’ worth of perseverance accumulated into an unforgettably ethereal concert driven by pure emotion and adrenaline.
Aside from the playing, however, AMIS participants were given many opportunities to engage with not only one another, but also their foreign environment as well during scheduled excursions, breaks between rehearsals, and even during free time in the hotel. On the second night, students were given the opportunity to participate in a scavenger hunt graciously put together by the team at ISL. There, they had the chance to tour the city and eat new foods with other schools’ students.
In the midst of these activities, participants inevitably forged valuable friendships and connected with people who have the same passion for music as they themselves do. It’s not everyday that students from Seoul get the chance to befriend those from Germany – but AMIS allowed for such connections to occur.
Though the musical growth of students was unquestionable, the more evident change was how the students grew more and more comfortable around others and eventually, into a family. The relationships formed during this unique experience are truly ones to be treasured for life. In a time in which the world is hurting from division and isolation, AMIS really offers a global experience for the young generation, creating the ability to reconnect the world under love, understanding, and music.