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Ipswich School celebrates end of year with Snape Concert and virtual Speech Day

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” reflected Headmaster Nicholas Weaver at Ipswich School’s Speech Day, calling on Charles Dickens to make sense of some of the unprecedented challenges which the school and society have overcome in the last two years.

In a special live streamed Speech Day at the beginning of July, the pupil prizewinners and members of staff were present in the marquee on School Field, while parents and pupils from the rest of the school were able to watch the proceedings at home.

And the guest speaker, Dr Hannah McFarland, pre-recorded her speech to be broadcast into the event; as a busy NHS hospital doctor, the former Ipswich School pupil was unable to be there in person.

Mr Weaver said afterwards: “I am so proud of the many ways in which the whole Ipswich School community has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, whether delivering engaging online lessons, testing hundreds of pupils to enable face to face learning again, or finding creative solutions to deliver our extensive co-curricular programmes. Huge credit must go to our pupils, for the way they have taken part in these lessons and activities, building resilience and continuing to develop, even in such strange circumstances. This Speech Day may have been different, but we were still able to celebrate everyone’s achievements – together and apart.” 

Speech Day was preceded by the school’s annual Snape Concert – held for the first time since 2019. Although a smaller event than usual, the concert at the world-famous Snape Maltings Concert Hall featured a number of Ipswich School ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and Big Band, with student soloists.

Music included Jupiter from Holst’s Planet Suite, Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor and a Mozart Clarinet Concerto, as well as a Big Band version of Bad Guy by Billie Eilish and musical theatre numbers from Chess, A Star is Born and Hairspray.

Beverley Steensma, Ipswich School’s Director of Music, said: “I was so delighted that our musicians could return to the prestigious Snape Maltings stage once again. Whilst we have been playing a vast amount of music during the lockdown, much of this has been in small groups and outdoor rehearsal spaces. It has been great to finally be able to join together and play in ensembles, socially distanced of course. Seeing pupils back on stage, in front of a live audience at last, was a perfect end to the school year.”

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