A Celebration of Schools’ Music is the result of a long-standing partnership between Aldeburgh Music and Suffolk County Council.
Over 28 years it has grown to provide 1,500 students each year, from nearly 50 maintained schools in Suffolk, an opportunity to be part of a 6-day festival that is a true celebration.
Hosted at Aldeburgh Music’s home, at Snape Maltings Concert Hall, this annual showcase has been in the Suffolk schools’ calendar since 1987, resulting in more than 31,000 schoolchildren to date taking to the Maltings stage – and over 80,000 audience members watching them make their debut.
This year, running from the 14th to 19th March, the theme for the event is ‘Our World’. Schools are sent a creative starting point’s poster in September which they can interpret and develop into their own performances.
During the Celebration week, the performers are treated just like professionals, with a dressing room, crew and technical staff. Each school has a dress rehearsal for their own performance, after which everyone comes together at the end of the day to rehearse the specially commissioned finale piece before taking to the stage in front of their audience.
The schools represent the entire breadth of the education system, from primary and high to referral units and special schools. There is no audition process and all schools are eligible to apply; the team work hard to ensure that all ages, abilities and locations are represented.
This unique opportunity, presented with a full artistic and technical team in one of the UK’s leading concert halls, is often the first experience of such an occasion for the children involved, and many have attested to the lasting effect the performance day had on them and how the memory has remained with them for many years.
The event also provides a valuable opportunity for teachers to learn from and support each other. There is the added opportunity of working closely with a professional production team, and many teachers see the event as valuable Continuing Personal Development (CPD).
Each year Aldeburgh Music commissions a finale piece which brings together all performers each night in a massed vocal piece. This year the Finale has been written by Latin jazz musician Alex Wilson and Sarah Jewell. They will be joined by drummer Kenrick Rowe. All the performers will come together at the end of the concert to perform this piece. There will be a massed rehearsal before the concert and groups will get to take part in a Finale workshop with Alex, Sarah and Kenrick during their day at Snape. Their Finale piece will explore the importance of Nyabinghi rhythms, body percussion and the layering of joyful gospel melodies and harmonies.