ISCMS Music Festival XIII Anniversary Gala Concert: Dolce e Grandioso


One of the biggest and most prestigious annual music festivals for international schools in Asia, this collaborative venture saw 14 schools from China and South Korea work together for three days of intensive rehearsals to bring exceptional music to the Forbidden City Concert Hall, which has been called ‘the musical pearl of China's imperial gardens’ for its picturesque surroundings nestled amidst historic gardens and landmarks such as the Forbidden City and Tian' anmen Square. 

ISCMS has grown since its first performance in 2008, which was also hosted by Dulwich College Beijing with just over 100 students across 9 international schools in participation. This year's event saw hundreds of students across 14 international schools taking part in this uniquely diverse and prestigious event.  


This year's participating schools in the big family included:

Dehong Shanghai International Chinese School
Dulwich College Beijing
Dulwich College Seoul
Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong
Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi
Dulwich College Suzhou


This year's festival marked ISCMS return after multiple delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Mark Elshout, DCB's Director of Performing Arts, expressed his gratefulness for the team of excellent music directors who guided our students through rigorous rehearsals. "Dr Hasty is an exceptional conductor who always treats our students like professional musicians, and is always a joy for the Orchestra to work with. Mr Gao has yet again gained the very best out of the Big Band musicians, and it has been a pleasure to welcome back Mr Squire as our Choir Director, one of the best in the world! Dr Deborah Pritchard, a highly in-demand composer based in London, has written this year's commission – Kandinsky Songs, and was here working with the musicians prior to our World Premiere."


From 21-24 February, Dulwich College Beijing hosted the International Schools Choral Music Society (ISCMS) XIII Dolce e Grandioso, a celebration of significant choral, orchestral, and big band repertoire that culminated in a concert hall performance at the Forbidden City Concert Hall located in Zhongshan Park, one of Beijing's most beautiful parks. 

When asked what made the festival special for him, Mr Elshout answered, "For me, the festival is all about the people involved. The ISCMS is a unique and special festival because it allows students to be part of something that is much bigger than anybody can ever do in their own school, and to perform at a level that is beyond the level a school will normally perform at. This allows us to do complicated materials and to do amazing things as (seen) at the concert." 





DCB student Hannah K, who played second violin, also agreed with this sentiment, sharing how collaborating with students from other schools was a big highlight for her. "It's just lovely talking to new people and making new friends," she said, adding that it's quite a unique experience to meet other students from outside the DCB community who share the same interests as well.  

Nina, another second violin player, shared her appreciation for the support and professionalism the teachers showed. And while she admitted that working with professionals was "stressful," she also described it as a fun experience. "They give you a lot of help and guidance and it is really fun to work with someone that understands the music so well."

Thank you to all the participants for a wonderful performance. Learn more about the performance by visiting their website at

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