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Choir performance at Snape Maltings

Choir performance at Snape Maltings - March 13th 2015

‘The best Primary School choir I’ve ever seen’ - Music teacher, Suffolk County Council.

‘‘We were deeply impressed. It was an INCREDIBLE performance! It was clearly a fantastic experience for the children’ - parent

‘I think you were by far the best act. The music was beautiful and the kids were full of confidence.’ - parent

Congratulations to our wonderful school choir for their amazing performance in ‘A Celebration of School’s Music’, on the world famous stage at Snape Maltings. They were selected, from many other schools in Suffolk, to perform on the evening of 13th March, 2015.

St. Helen’s choir formed in June, 2013 and is a group of thirty two boys and girls from years 4, 5 and 6.The pupils are particularly talented and enthusiastic about singing and enjoy learning songs in English and in other languages. The performance at Snape included five songs from around the world that reflect the multicultural makeup of our school and promote our cultural diversity. The songs involved singing in unison, in harmony and in rounds and the children performed in five different languages !

For the second consecutive year, the  choir of St. Helen’s School were invited to perform at the annual Celebration of Schools’ Music at the world famous Snape Maltings concert hall. This year, Mrs. Clarke and our choir celebrated the theme of ‘My Suffolk’ along with pupils from seven other schools and colleges in the county.

The performance started with ‘We Mbiba’, a Zulu childrens’ song. It was followed by a Bulgarian spinning song called ‘Stome Ome’.Then we sang  a traditional Welsh song called ‘Dacw Nghariad’ and an English song called ‘Lean on Me’ - which was accompanied by the senior music advisor, Phillip Shaw, on piano.The set finished with our rousing favourite folk song from Trinidad and Tobago called ‘Yani Mama’’ with Flo and Dee on drums.

The day began at half past ten in the morning as the children excitedly boarded the coach that took them to Snape. On arrival, the choir were warmly greeted by members of the Aldeburgh Music staff and shown to their own dressing room backstage. There was hardly time to unpack before the choir was required on stage for their technical rehearsal. This was followed by a short lunch and then break outside in the sunshine.

During the day we attended  workshops with the inspirational Ken Burton. Ken is a composer, performer, music judge on the BAFTA-nominated BBC programme ‘The Choir’ and a world class educator.Being able to work with such a highly talented and creative musician was a marvellous opportunity for members of our choir.

After a picnic lunch, we were able to spend time in  the beautiful countryside surrounding the Maltings-walking along remote pathways through marshy fields, reed beds and woodland.The children sketched, talked about what they could see, feel and hear and played happily around famous sculptures by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Miss Shete and Mrs. Merchant had prepared a collection of poetry for us to read and act in groups.  The sharing of poetry in the tranquil setting of the reed beds against the darkening open skies was not only a marvellous learning experience, but also a calming, relaxing preparation for the commitment and discipline required for the evening performance.

At five o’clock all of the seven schools involved in the Celebration of School’s Music were able to meet together on stage to practice ‘Suffusion’’- a collaborative composition by  Ken Burton for the finale. Each school contributed their own section to the lyrics; St. Helen’s was:

‘ We are the county town, we promise not to let you down. Ipswich is strong, unique and amazing!’

The choir rehearsed the finale for an hour, with pupils from across the county.This was a wonderful moment of togetherness, uplifting and enjoyable for all of the children involved. There was just time for an hour of calmness with books and games, in order to prepare for the performance ahead.

St. Helen’s choir closed the first half of the night’s programme. They were absolutely the best that they could be. Jade Montana deserves a special mention as she performed on crutches with a broken leg. However, there were other children who bravely overcame personal circumstances in order to perform on the night.Children who had felt nervous about the event gained confidence. Those who had felt tired were caught by the moment and found a new lease of life. Parents, friends, families, governors and teachers had arrived at the hall to encourage and support the children and their cheers really did help to spur on the choir. The performance transcended all of our weeks of hard  rehearsal and was the best that it could be.

It is with grateful thanks to John Helleur, Lena Shete, Lyn Clarke, Sarah Merchant ,Ellie MacRae, Angela Montana and all of the choir members that such a successful and life changing event was possible.