Ipswich School celebrates Britten centenary in style

A 200-strong choir and orchestra from Ipswich School celebrated the centenary of Benjamin Britten in style on Thursday (25 April) at the Snape Maltings Concert Hall.
 
They performed the Britten cantata St Nicolas as the second half of the school’s annual Spring Concert, a fitting tribute as members of the Ipswich School Preparatory Boys’ Choir had sung on the original recording of the piece in 1955, directed by the composer himself.  Acclaimed tenor, and Old Ipswichian, Richard Edgar-Wilson joined the musicians on stage as the tenor soloist.
 
The concert was opened by the mass ranks of the school’s Symphony and Intermediate Orchestras, who played Verdi’s Grand March from ‘Aida’, and there were also performances from the Preparatory School String Ensemble and the Preparatory School Chamber Choir plus the Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and Show Choir – singing an a cappella version of I’m a Train under the direction of sixth former Imogen Parry and suitably dressed in train driver style peaked caps.  The first half of the concert was closed by the ever-popular Big Band, featuring a number of student soloists and including the rousing Don’t Stop Believin’ in the style of hit TV show Glee.
 
The same evening saw the unveiling of the new name for the Ipswich School Music Department.  As a tribute to Suffolk’s most famous musical son in his centenary year, the department is now the Britten Faculty of Music, thanks to Old Ipswichian Richard Edgar-Wilson and member of the New Music School campaign committee Edmond Fivet, who were able to secure agreement from the Britten Pears Foundation to use Britten’s name.
 
Nicholas Weaver, Headmaster at Ipswich School, said: “We are honoured that the Britten Foundation has recognised the excellence of music at Ipswich School by permitting us to use Britten’s name in this way.  We were also delighted to welcome Britten’s nephew, Alan Britten, to the Spring Concert for the launch of the new name, and to listen to the St Nicolas performance.  The whole evening was a great success and is testament to the hard work and hours of practice put in by both students and staff.”
 
Andrew Leach, Director of Music at Ipswich School, added: “It really was a magnificent concert and we had many kind words from members of the audience who had enjoyed the evening.  It was a real team effort to produce such a successful event, and I know the performers enjoyed it as much as the audience did.  We’re looking forward to next year’s event already!” 

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