A Celebration of Schools’ Music 2015

We had a very busy week between 9th -14th March running our Celebration of Schools’ Music event here at Snape. In a nutshell, we hosted 44 Suffolk schools – approximately 1600 children from local authority primary, high and special schools – to come and perform here at Snape Maltings Concert Hall between Monday and Saturday. Each school was involved in technical rehearsals on stage, working with a professional lighting, sound and stage crew, and a workshop, in which they learnt a piece especially composed for them by Ken Burton to perform as the concert Finale.


For me, it was a very special six days for so many reasons. It was great to see properly for the first time the quality and breadth of music-making that goes on in Suffolk schools. Sometimes, particularly with all the doom and gloom about cuts to the Arts in the news, I think we forget to recognise the amazing singing and playing that is going on within music education and so it was brilliant to ‘celebrate’ this last week. We heard some really confident and beautiful singing and a huge variety of instrumental playing each night, from symphony orchestras to jazz bands. Not to mention the fantastic finale piece written by Ken Burton (best known for conducting the London Adventist Chorale) which all the groups came together to sing at the end of each night. It was based on this year’s theme of Suffolk and is so good we can’t stop singing it…
The week was also a chance to work alongside different people, such as the backstage crew, a fantastic group of musicians who ran our Finale workshops and the visual artists from a company called Butch Auntie, who created some amazing photo and video footage to show the audience of the day. Team Education took it upon ourselves to track our steps throughout the week with pedometers. I felt it was quite revealing as to who was working the hardest (me) though my two colleagues, Phillipa and Lizzie, think I was cheating. The accuracy of our devices was brought in to question on the Wednesday morning though, when Lizzie had done 15 steps before getting out of bed.

But the best thing about Celebration is the younger children’s responses throughout the day: their gasp of surprise when they see how big the concert hall is the first time they stepped through the stage door; their nerves and excitement as we lined them up backstage ready to perform; and their delight when they left the stage after performing. I feel very proud to have been part of a team that really nurtured and encouraged all the performers during their time here. I gave countless well done high fives, said ‘you’ll be fine…remember to smile’ more times than I can remember, tied several hair bobbles and tuned plenty of violins. I can’t wait for next year!