ISB student wins top music award
Posted 09/20/2018 03:47PM

Siqi Chen

By Nick Yates, ISB Communications

The International School of Beijing's (ISB) Siqi C has been announced as the winner of the AMIS Young Composers' Competition, bringing to a crescendo several years in which ISB students have been highly commended in the prestigious awards scheme.

The Association of Music in International Schools (AMIS) Young Composers' Competition aims to foster musical creativity by providing students with a platform for sharing their original music with the AMIS community. This year's competition attracted entries from high school students around the world. They rose to the challenge of composing for vocal and/or instrumental ensembles of three-to-eight parts, for a range of musical ensembles that included a cappella choral, string quartet and sextet, clarinet quintet, jazz quartet, and mixed chamber groups.

According to an AMIS press release, "The strongest entries demonstrated confident use of structural devices, very good understanding and handling of chosen instruments, imaginative and creative development of musical ideas, and notation that communicated the composer's musical intentions to the performers."

And Siqi's entry was the strongest of them all, topping the 12 other works in competition.

Her Rain on the Road piece is scored for two flutes, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, triangle, and piano. It was inspired by a photograph of rain taken by Siqi, who is in grade 12. AMIS said its judging panel was impressed by Rain on the Road's cohesive structure, creative exploration of musical elements, idiomatic orchestration, colorful use of timbre, and interesting rhythms.

AMIS award score

Siqi said the writing process began in spring this year, when Australian composer Damian Barbeler visited ISB and gave lessons on a technique based on composing from a photo. "We drew on a long strip of paper and planned out our entire piece," she explained. "I think that's a fascinating process. It's really helpful for the structure and planning because I already know what I want to hear by the end of it."

A project that began several months ago resulted in a dramatic moment when Siqi found out she had won the award recently. "I was being driven to school, and I screamed out of the car window," Siqi said. "I was late to school, so my driver was already nervous. She was shocked and asked me what had happened. I was so excited because I never anticipated I would actually win the competition."

Siqi started playing piano when she was about 5. Around grade 8, she was inspired by watching an anime on classical music – she started to learn composition and take her piano lessons more seriously. Given confidence by the award, Siqi said she's now thinking of double-majoring in composition at college. She also wants to try out film scoring.

ISB students were highly commended in the Young Composers' Competition in 2017 and 2015.

Siqi's music is now set to be heard around the world as AMIS encourages directors in other schools to adopt winning and commended composers' pieces into their ensemble repertoires for the upcoming year.

Want to have a listen to Rain on the Road?

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