Alexandre Veillerette is rather handy with a baton. In the Spring of 2018 he conducted over 50 of his fellow student musicians in a concert in front of a 550-strong audience at Rome’s famous arts centre Parco Della Musica.
The 17-year-old, who studies on the IB Diploma Programme (DP) at St George’s British International School, in Rome, led his peers in a rendition of the theme from the TV series Games of Thrones. He says he found the experience “educative and, at times, challenging”.
“The opportunity to lead the orchestra has built my confidence and musical knowledge,” he explains. “I feel it enabled me to develop many of the skills required of an IB learner. I have learned much about the work of conducting a piece. In particular, I have been developing the skills necessary to bring together separate musicians to offer the best experience possible for the audience.”
St George’s British International School stages a concert at the Parco Della Musica every spring. But this year was the first time a student has been on the conductor’s rostrum.
Among the other music performed was Finlandia, by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, which brought together St George’s junior school and senior school choirs. There was also a rendition of the Ray Charles R&B song I Don’t Need No Doctor, played by the school’s CAS band, of which Alexandre is a member. CAS is short for creativity, activity, service—a core part of IB Diploma Programme)
“Overall, the performance was simultaneously heart-warming and inclusive,” Alexandre says. “From the perspective of an IB learner, the event linked well to the purpose of CAS, which is to enhance our personal and interpersonal development by learning through experience. Personally, I felt the concert demonstrated the close-knit community of our school.”
Alexandre is looking forward to performing and conducting in future concerts. There are plans for one to be staged soon in a children’s hospital.
“For St George’s British International School of Rome, it was probably just another impressive annual musical event,” Alexandre adds. “But for me, despite sounding a little clichéd, I believe the concert has been a life-changing and character-building experience, as well as a near-perfect illustration of the IB values and IB learner profile.”
“The experience helped me develop my leadership and collaboration skills, as well as being a real test of my organisational skills. To attempt to connect and communicate with such a large audience was a huge risk that was at first daunting. Ultimately, however, this opportunity led me to become a more responsible, well-rounded and confident person, which is in my opinion entirely in keeping with the aims of the IB diploma programme.”