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COBIS Music Festival returns in full harmony: Doha College hosts live and online event

In collaboration with the Council of British International Schools, Doha College hosted the COBIS Music Festival, the first live post-pandemic event with international participation, welcoming over 120 students from nine schools across three continents.

The hiatus did, however, bring two positive changes: it opened the way for an online section focused on composition, and for the live streaming of the awards presentation, followed by a performance of the Festival Anthem, performed by the students attending in person. 

The three-day event gave the students participating in person the opportunity to perform in a range of solo and ensemble categories (including a brand-new Battle of the Bands category), take part in musical workshops, and explore unique sites in Doha. 

The competition was honoured to welcome two internationally renowned, multifaceted music professionals - adjudicators Rob Johnston and Paul Barker. In addition to judging the live event, Rob conducted a very engaging workshop for all the participants, while composer Paul Barker listened to over 70 pieces that were entered in the four composition categories.

The overall winner of this year’s event was Rancheng Xu from the British School of Bahrain, who – aged just 10 – performed with breath-taking virtuosity and spell-binding ease. Play the video below to be enchanted by his exquisite performance of Chopin’s Polonaise in G sharp Minor.

Park Lane International School from the Czech Republic enjoyed great success at the event, winning no fewer than three categories, namely Vocal Lower School Classical, Vocal Lower School Contemporary and the newly launched Battle of the Bands, and earning a special commendation as well. Their teachers were obviously ecstatic!

The category winners are listed below (a special mention to Moritz Reininghaus, who won the Lower School Piano Solo category back in 2019, not knowing he would turn 17 by the time he would return – and win again!)

Rancheng XuBritish School of Bahrain
Lower School Instrumental Award Winner

Moritz ReininghausBritish School in the Netherlands
Upper School Instrumental Award Winner

Simon MaresPark Lane International School
Lower School Vocal Classical Award Winner

Emilija Bagdasarjan

Park Lane International School
Lower School Vocal Contemporary Award Winner

Adebola OyelamiChildren's International School
Upper School Vocal Classical Award Winner

Aiyla Iqbal

British International School of Riyadh
Upper School Vocal Contemporary Award Winner

Doha CollegeInstrumental Ensemble of the Year

St. Saviour's School Ikoyi

Choir of the Year

Park Lane International SchoolBattle of the Bands Award Winner

Gabriel Haddon

Lower School Rising Star

Oribi IbisikiUpper School Rising Star

Rancheng Xu

COBIS Young Musician of the Year 2023

Hosts Doha College also achieved an excellent run, albeit with the slight advantage of performing on their home turf! They won the Instrumental Ensemble category, had two runners-up in the Lower and Upper School instrumental categories, two commendations as well as one of the Rising Star awards.

Instrumental Ensemble of the Year

Anne McChesney, Runner Up

Gyu Ryang Lee, Runner Up

Taline Majzoub, Special Commendation

Helen Kozlowski, Special Commendation

Gabriel Haddon, Rising Star

Another special mention goes to the other “Rising Star,” namely Oribi Ibisiki from the Children’s International School Lagos, who raised the roof with his exhilarating, max-energy drumming. He thrilled the audiences with three mind-blowing solos in the individual, instrumental ensemble and battle of the bands categories (although unrecognisable as his chorister alter ego in the choir category!).

To view photos from the event, tap here. To read the programme, which includes details about the adjudicators and the participants, in person and online, tap here.

Full results:

Lower School Instrumental Winner Rancheng Xu
Lower School Instrumental Runner Up Anne McChesney
Lower School Instrumental Commended               Daniel Pukhau
Upper School Instrumental Winner Moritz Reininghaus
Upper School Instrumental Runner Up Gyu Ryang Lee
Upper School Instrumental Commended Xanxue (Sandy) Wang
Lower School Vocal Classical Winner Simon Mares
Lower School Vocal Classical Commended Taline Majzoub
Lower School Vocal Contemporary Winner Emilija Bagdasarjan
Lower School Vocal Contemporary Commended Barbora Jurikova
Upper School Vocal Classical Winner Adebola Oyelami
Upper School Vocal Contemporary Winner Aiyla Iqbal
Upper School Vocal Contemporary Commended Zainal Zainalabdeen
Upper School Vocal Contemporary Commended Helen Kowlowski
Instrumental Ensemble of the Year Doha College
Choir of the Year

St. Saviour’s School Ikoyi

Battle of the Bands Winner Park Lane International School
Lower School Rising Star Gabriel Haddon
Upper School Rising Star Oribi Ibisiki
Lower School Free Composition Alex Whitten, Compass International School Doha
Lower School Songwriting Composition Riley Franz Casinillo, Haileybury Astana
Upper School Free Composition Sarah Al-Hajj, Dubai English Speaking College
Upper School Film Composition Valentin Joudrier, British School in the Netherlands
Upper School Electronic Dance Composition Santiago Granada, Colegio Anglo Colombiano
Upper School Songwriting Composition Michael Xie, Wycombe Abbey School Changzhou
Young Composer of the Year Sarah Al-Hajj, Dubai English Speaking College
COBIS Young Musician of the Year 2023 

Rancheng Xu

Ms Steph Gomaa, Director of Music at Doha College, extends enormous gratitude to COBIS for fostering camaraderie and cultural exchange through this incredible event, and the Westin Hotel Doha for their colossal work with logistics, visas, rooming and so much more.

It was an absolute joy to see schools come together again for a competition that celebrated the power of music to unite and inspire. The memories and friendships formed here in Doha will stay with the young musicians forever. We eagerly anticipate their future endeavors and the beautiful melodies they will keep on bringing to our lives.