Category Archives: Music

End of Semester Arts Events

Throughout November and December we celebrate the semester’s learning in Arts classes with a selection of events. Take note of these dates in your calendar and come support the student’s building their audience awareness skills:

*Grade 2 Music Concert- Friday, Nov 8th @ 8am in FAT- The Music of Life celebrates nature in all it’s forms.

*ES/MS/ HS All Choirs’ Concert- Wed, Nov 13th @ 5:30pm in FAT- Join the choirs as they take on at least one classic song from every decade between the 1920’s and 2010’s. From ‘It had to be you’ to a Hamilton Medley, there will be something for everyone.

*MS/ HS All Strings’ Concert- Wed, Nov 20th @ 5:30pm in FAT- More decade classics.

*MS/ HS All Bands’ Concert- Wed, Nov 27th @ 5:30pm in FAT- Ever heard a big band play the Star Wars Imperial March or Stairway to Heaven? It is always inspiring to hear the bands take on such epic classics.

MS/ HS (Intro/ Explore) Art Exhibition- Opens Wed, Nov 27th @ 3pm. Runs until Fri, Dec 13th in FAT Lobby.

ES/ MS/ HS Dance Recital- Sat, Dec 7th @ 3pm in FAT

Grade 3 Music Concert- Fri, Dec 13th @ 8:30am in FAT

Grade 4 Music Concert- Fri, Dec 13th @ 10:00am in FAT

HS Musical 2019: 17-19 October in FAT

This year’s HS Play, the musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, opens on October 17th and runs for four shows. Although it is labeled a pop opera, the score covers a multitude of styles from folk and blues to electronic dance and Broadway Ballard. The show was written by Dave Molloy, who based it on a 70-page segment of Leo Tolstoy’s iconic Russian novel War and Peace. It first staged off-Broadway before transferring to Broadway in 2017, where it was nominated for 13 Tony Awards. 

What is War and Peace about? 

As the Huff Post puts it, “War and Peace revolutionized the modern novel by packing in more human experience than any other work of fiction had ever attempted. In 361 cinematic chapters of a few pages each, he moves seamlessly back and forth between ballrooms and battlefields, marriages and massacres, private lives and public spectacles… If a human being has ever experienced it, War and Peace depicts it” and uses Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 as the backdrop.

Which parts of War and Peace does The Great Comet explore? 

Tolstoy shows that people can either face their flaws and grow from this awareness or ignore them at their own peril. The main characters, Countess Natasha Rostova and Count Pierre Bezukhov, are old family friends who both struggle with flaws that drive them to extremes. Natasha is obsessed with the pursuit of romantic love, but unrealistic ideals blind her to reality. Pierre shuts himself off from the world to read about life rather than actually live it; he is only 26, yet everybody already calls him “old man”. The Great Comet picks up their stories just after Pierre has introduced Natasha to his great friend, Andrei, who quickly proposes. Andrei’s family thinks he is rushing into marriage and send him off to fight Napoleon’s troops. While waiting for Andrei’s return, Natasha and her cousin, Sonya, visit Natasha’s Godmother, Marya, in Moscow. Despite the war, high society still seems more concerned with amusements such as operas. Amidst this social whirl, Natasha’s beauty catches the attention of the notorious playboy, Anatole. Meanwhile, Pierre is now also living in Moscow, having just married Anatole’s sister, Helene. Helene only cares for Pierre’s money and title, which makes him miserable.  In the past, Pierre and Natasha have always been able to advise each other wisely, but never quite find the time to reconnect until the Great Comet of 1812 is seen in the skies above Moscow and it is perhaps too late…..

Why The Great Comet at ISM? 

When deciding upon a musical for the school’s 100th anniversary, we wanted to do something epic that celebrated ISM’s continual quest for innovation, challenge and, most importantly, community building. A musical based on parts of the great novel War and Peace seemed to fulfil the epic remit. Being the first school in the world granted full performing rights for the show certainly provided our talented students with a challenge. In terms of community building, the most appealing aspect of The Great Comet is the way it blends actors, singers, dancers, musicians, crew and audience together onstage to create an innovative immersive experience. We hope you will enjoy your journey to 1812 Moscow as much as we have! 

Performance Details 

  • Show times: Thursday, October 17th and 18th at 6PM/ Saturday, October 19th at 2:30PM and 7PM. The show is a full length musical so should run at 2 hours, which includes a 15 minute intermission. 
  • Buying tickets: The play will use immersive, cafe-style seating, which limits the amount of seats available at each show to 200 and means there will be assigned seating. To ensure you get the date and seats that suit your family, buy tickets early. Tickets cost 200PHP for students and 300PHP for adults. All tickets need to be brought at the ISM Cashier’s Office so you can select your seat. 
  • Where to sit: This is an immersive theatre experience; some seats put you right amidst the action, whilst others let you sit back a little and take it all in with a more traditional seat. We’ll leave it to you to decide how much a part of the show you want to be! With this style of seating, it is highly difficult to seat latecomers and you will end up missing a big portion of the show if you are late. If someone in your family requires wheelchair access, please seek advice from Marsha Hillman or Denis Lagdameo in the Fine Arts office before buying so we can support you in selecting seats that allow your whole group to sit together. 
  • Audience advisory: Being based on a classic work of literature, the themes in the play suit a High School level of understanding and maturity. That said, the music and dance performances are exciting in places so even if the storyline is lost on them, Middle School students should enjoy the performance with parental supervision.

HS Play 2019 Auditions

Natasha, Pierre & the Comet of 1812

Cast Auditions start Thursday, August 15th @3pm, FAT

Cast Auditions start Thursday, August 15th @3pm, FAT

First Crew meeting is Thursday, August 29th @ 3pm, FAT

How do I sign up for the cast and crew? 

  • Join the ISM Fine Arts Council Google+ page OR
  • Check for an email from Mr. Birchenall OR 
  • Check your batch Google+ page for details Crew Sign up

All details are posted there. Sign up by Thursday, August 15th for Cast and Tuesday, August 27th for crew.

Any questions see Mrs. Hillman in the Fine Arts Office

IASAS Cultural Convention 2019: Preview dates

It is almost time for IASAS Cultural Convention 2019, but before we travel the students would love to share all their hard work with the ISM community. Here are the dates and times for these events:

PreviewDate Time Venue
Film (All ISM entries)Thursday, Feb 14th@3pmLT
DebateTuesday, Feb 19th@3pmLT
Music Part OneTuesday, Feb 19th@5pmAMR
ForensicsWednesday, Feb 20th@3pmLT
Dance/ Drama/ FilmWednesday, Feb 20th@5pmFAT
Music Part TwoThursday, Feb 21st@5pmAMR
Dance/ Drama/ FilmSaturday, Feb 23rd@3pmFAT

HS Great Works Concert Links

For those who didn’t get a chance to see the 2018 HS Great Works Concert on September 20th, here is the live steam video. If you only have time for one musical piece today, I’ve set the first link to start with the last ‘Great Work’ of the night, which was Hallelujah from “The Mount of Olives” by Beethoven. At one time it was a controversial piece, but the sheer verve of the music meant that it has transcended the centuries to become a rousing classic:

The focus of the Great Works Concert is developing collaboration between ISM HS music groups through working on a challenging work together. We also bring in professional musicians to work alongside our students to further stretch their capabilities and develop their musicianship. The whole concert can be watched from the start via this link:

The program is also attached here so you can follow along and celebrate the ISM students, staff and visiting guest artists who were performing. Congratulations again to the ISM Middle and High School Music Department for preparing the students so well for such a challenging concert.
The recording above is via the live stream. We also recorded a higher quality audio and will synch this with the video when editing. This copy will be place in the Parent Portal for download a copy for your records. Instructions about finding this video can be found here:

End of Semester events summary

As we enter the last quarter of the school year, many Arts classes are preparing a final sharing of their work. We would love to have you come and support the following events:

  • HS Finale Concert- Tuesday, April 17th@5pm in FAT(All HS Music Groups)
  • HS Film Festival- Wednesday, April 18th@3pm in FAT (Selection of films from Intro, Explore & IB classes)
  • 100% Dance- Thursday, April 19th@3:15pm in LT (HS Dance Company class members)
  • MS/ HS Art Show Opening- Friday, April 3rd@3pm in FAT Lobby (All MS Art groups/ HS Intro and Explore classes (Exhibition hangs until Wednesday, April 16th)
  • HS Dance Finale- Wednesday, May 23rd@3:15pm in LT (HS Dance and Advanced Dance class members)
  • IB1 Art Exhibition Opens- Monday, May 28th@3pm in FAT Lobby (Grade 11 IB Art students/ hangs until June 1st)

IASAS Cultural Convention 2018- Previews Week Feb 19 to 24

IASAS Cultural Convention Previews take place from Feb 19th to 24th. Please promote and/ or come and support the groups as they preview their skills and materiel before representing ISM at IASAS Cultural Convention 2018. (For those who don’t know much about IASAS Cultural Convention, here is a brief guide which will help you make sense of all the acronyms and jargon: a guide to Cultural Convention )
IASAS Debate & Forensics Previews schedule
You will notice that in addition to our wonderful delegates speaking, the coaches are also sharing their talents! However, rather than take on their own coaching expertise, they have challenged each other to try out another speaking format. Come & see how the Impromptu coach copes with illuminating an OI script or how the OI coach manages when they have to improvise. I asked coaches if this would be serious or fun and got a wonderful array of responses, which suggests you will be entertained by both students and teachers! 

IASAS Music Previews
The previews offers each Music delegate the chance to practice their solo and each music ensemble time to showcase their group work. Here are the maximum lengths of each performance so you estimate the length of the show you a re attending:
  • Vocal solos – 6 minutes
  • Vocal ensembles – 8 minutes
  • Band solos and ensembles – 8 minutes
  • String solos and ensembles – 10 minutes
  • Piano solos – 10 minutes
Here is the running order for each of the two preview nights:

Dance/ Drama/ Tech Previews
IASAS Dance performs a 20-minute original choreography and IASAS Drama performs a 45-minute play. Each group previews their shows twice. After the first performance, the groups hold a Question and Answer session with the audience who offer the insights about the piece. They then spend the remaining rehearsal time before the Saturday Preview refining and is some cases adjusting aspects of the performance. Each preview takes place in the FAT on the following dates:
  • Thursday, Feb 22nd @ 5pm
  • Saturday, Feb 24th @5pm
The dance this year is entitled Escape. The team is made up of:

Annika Allado
Erica Bertacca
Nicole Bitanga
Nina Cobankiat
Danielle Concepcion
Monique Godfrey
Jennifer Javier
Dias Konysbayev
Sarina Malik
Amanda Qua
Martina Qua
Sunny Seo

The play this year is an original piece devised by the cast call Smashing Magic. The cast is:

Sofia Caoua
Manuel Elizalde
Georgia Limcaoco
Alexis Lopez
Shubh Mahtani
Finn Morrison
Alex Pekin
Juan Periquet
Pari Pradhan
Sophia Quintos
Rocio Tambunting
Rahul Vanjani

IASAS Cultural Convention Art/ Dance/ Drama/ Tech- Host families needed!

International School Manila hosts….IASAS Music Cultural Convention: February 28th to March 4th, 2018

ISM will be hosting students from the IASAS schools (Singapore American School, International School of Kuala Lumpur, Taipei American School, International School Bangkok, and Jakarta Intercultural School) for the IASAS Art/ Dance/ Drama/ Tech Cultural Convention, 2018.  In order to put this event on, we need to provide home stays for 115 students while they are in Manila. Groups will arrive Wednesday, February 28th and depart on Sunday, March 4th.

Why host?

Hosting is an excellent opportunity for ISM students. It forges international friendships, which often last beyond High School into College. Indeed, there are many instances of IASAS friends becoming roommates or joining together for regular social events. In addition, hosting also has a very practical purpose as it keeps the costs of running the event at a manageable level for families. Many ISM students have already benefited (or will do so in the future) from home stays in other countries. Therefore, hosting IASAS students is a chance to repay past and future kindnesses as well as make new international friends! More importantly, it is a lot of fun!

General guidelines/expectations for host families when housing for an IASAS event:

  • Pick up and drop off from and to school on arrival and departure days (Feb 28th to Mar 4th, 2018)
  • Transport to school each morning and transport home each day of the event (can be bus in the mornings on school days).
  • Provide breakfast and evening meals (except for Saturday- IASAS banquet will be held at school. Students buy their lunch at the canteen.)
  • Ensure there is adult supervision when visiting students are at your home each evening. (This should be an adult family member, not a paid helper.)
  • Enforce the 9pm curfew for all IASAS delegates.
  • Answer curfew calls from the visiting students’ advisors after 9pm each evening.

Answers to commonly asked questions:

What guidelines are there for sleeping arrangements?

  • You will need to provide each student with a place to sleep, bedding and a towel.
  • If you have a double bed, it is fine: the visiting schools try to pair friends together so this isn’t an issue and we forewarn people so they have a chance to opt out if they are uncomfortable with this idea.
  • Airbeds, mattresses on the floor of your child’s bedroom and sofa beds are also fine.
  • If the hosted students are sharing a room, it must be with somebody of the same gender.

What expectations are there regarding supervision?

  • There must be an adult member of the family home during the evenings
  • In a car, there must always be a member of the host family. This may be an ISM student or parents.
  • Answer the curfew call from the visiting teachers, who do this after 9pm each night.

When will I know who I am hosting?

  • Unfortunately, hosting is like a giant puzzle. We can place the students until we have all the beds. We hope to be able share this with you at least 3 days before the event.

I am an IASAS Delegate. Does this mean I need to house?

  • Yes. All delegates need to house in the year they travel for an IASAS event. When a student is part of an IASAS event hosted by ISM, it is expected that they host for that event. If the student is travelling, then they must host for any event in that school year. Ideally, the family can host while the student is absent if there is another MS or HS sibling in the house.
  • If you cannot fulfill your obligation, you must find a family that can do so on your behalf.

What do I do now?

If hosting is something your family is happy to do, please fill in this Google IASAS CC 2018 Hosting Form.  If you have any additional questions regarding the hosting process, please feel free to call or email me. We will then contact you 2 to 3 days (or earlier if we get all beds quickly!) before the event to let you know the details of the students you will be hosting and other important logistical details.

Thanks for supporting the IASAS Music Cultural Convention at ISM!

A Guide to IASAS Cultural Convention

For those new to ISM or new to the cultural aspects of IASAS, here is a short guide to IASAS Cultural Convention.

IASAS Cultural Convention is held over 3 days with an addtional travel day either side. The dates this year are  February 28th to March 4th, making the convention days the 1st to 3rd. There are three parts to this event, each of which is held at a different IASAS School:

  • IASAS Music- hosted this year by Taipei American School (8 strings players, 8 band members and 8 choir singers accompanied by 3  pianists playing solos as well as performing in octets)
  • IASAS Debate and Forensics- hosted this year by Singapore American School (18 students competing in the areas of Debate, Impromptu speaking, Oral interpretation, Original Oratory, and Extemporaneous speaking)
  • IASAS Art/ Dance/ Drama- hosted this year by ISM! (8 Dancers presenting a 20 minute perfromance, 8 actors presenting a 45 minute perfromance and 5 artists accompanying 25 pieces of Art add to an exhibition. In addition, 2 tech delegates  design and run the tech elements for Dance and Drama. )

Being part of a Cultural Convention group is essentially the cultural equivalent of making a varsity sports team. All students who are involved have completed some form of audition or selection process. The students of our cultural ‘teams’ are called delegates and represent ISM against other IASAS schools.


Each school sends 27 musicians: 8 strings players, 8 band members, 8 choir members and 3 pianists. Each member of the group completes a solo performance on their chosen instrument in front a panel of adjudicators who will give a detail critique of the student’s playing. Each of the strings, band and choir soloists are supported by one of the 3 pianists. The groups also present as octets. The convention culminates in a showcase of performers from the various schools that have been recommended for an Honors award based on their solos or octet performances.


Prior to travelling, IASAS Music holds previews for the ISM community. There are two previews, which have different programs so that each soloist and octet gets a chance to practice in front of an audience. This means that there are two wonderful nights of music to look forward to next week. All players involved are of an advanced standard so if you enjoy classical music please put the following dates aside:

  • Wednesday, February 21st at 5pm in the Little Theatre
  • Friday, February 23rd at 5pm in the Little Theatre


Debate and Forensics is a competitive convention with four different events being contested for gold, silver and bronze medals:

Debate– 6 Debaters break into two groups and compete over several rounds, which culminate in a final.

Original Oratory– 3 students prepare an original 5-7 minute speech prior to the convention the convention. The piece is marked on both content and performance.

Oral Interpretation- 3 students each learn a poem, short story or extract from a longer text of 5 to 7 minutes in length.  They present this and are evaluated upon how well they are able to covey thematic significance and character development through by using an array of oratory techniques.

Extemporaneous Speaking- Prior to the convention, schools submit a range of topics related to current affairs. These are sorted through and a selection of questions is created. Meanwhile, the 3 extemporaneous speakers spend as much time developing their understanding of topical current affairs and collecting a file of possible source material. In each round, the students are given a choice of two questions and then have 30 minutes to prepare a 5 to 7 minute speech which answers the question.  Evaluation is weighted 70% for content and 30% for delivery.

Impromptu Speaking- Our 3 impromptu speakers will each compete in three rounds to make it to a final. Each round sees them handed two topic choices and then given 1 minute to prepare a 3 to 5 minute speech on the one of their choice. Evaluation is weighted 60% for content and 40% for delivery.


Monday, Fe 19th and Tuesday, Feb 20th in the LT


Each of the 6 IASAS schools brings 5 artists, 8 dancers and 8 actors to participate in workshops and to also share prepared work. This means that over the 3 days of the convention there will be many performances and an art exhibition to appreciate:

Art- Art delegates spend the first morning of the convention hanging an exhibition of the 6 schools’ art works. Each school brings 25 pieces of art that can come from a wide range of mediums, including painting, photography, graph design, sculpture and more. The 5 delegates that are present will each have at least one piece on display but there will also be work from students who are not present. The Art opening takes place on the first evening of the exhibition and then hangs until the opening of the last shows. During the convention, each piece is critiqued by delegates and this feedback is given to the artists. In addition to this they participate in 3 workshops and a trip to Intramurous.

Dance- Prior to the convention, each school choreographs a 20 minute dance based around a theme or story.  This will be shared during the convention with other delegates but is also open to the ISM community to watch. This performance will then be critiqued by the workshop leader and all other delegates. The Dancers also participate in 5 workshops led by a Dance professional.

Drama- Prior to the convention, each school prepares a performance of no more than 45 minutes in length to share with delegates and other interested members of the ISM community. The type of theatre can vary greatly.  These performances will each be critiqued by workshop leaders and all other delegates.

Tech- Two tech delegates are chosen who run the technical aspects of the Dance and Drama performances.


When are Art/ Dance/ Drama/ Tech Previews? 

Thursday, Feb 22nd at 5pm and Saturday, Feb 24th at 3pm in the FAT.