Bernstein Centenary Celebration

Following on from their First World War Centenary concerts earlier in the year, Ipswich Choral Society mark another centenary, the birth of Leonard Bernstein. The Bernstein Centenary Celebration will be held on 20 October at St Mary-le-Tower church.

Leonard Bernstein (25 August 1918 – 14 October 1990) was a world renowned musician, conductor and composer. He served as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic and conducted the world’s major orchestras. The finale of the concert will be a performance of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, originally commissioned by the Very Reverend Walter Hussey for the 1965 Southern Cathedrals Festival.

Another highlight will be discovering more about Leonard Bernstein with Ipswich Choral Society President Cem Mansur who will give a talk during the interval. Cem studied with Bernstein at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute and has since gone on to work with major orchestras and opera houses across the world.

Ipswich Choral Society will also be performing settings of two psalms ‘The voice of melody’ and ‘Idols’ by British-French-Israeli composer Nimrod Borenstein, whose music is widely performed throughout Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan. The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra recently performed the world premiere of his second Cello Concerto.

The concert programme will feature other works by Bernstein and a collection of choral works by Sergei Rachmaninov, Eric Whitacre and Stevie Wishart among others.

A retiring collection will be made after the concert for Ipswich Choral Society’s nominated charity for 2018, Diabetes UK, Ipswich & District Support Group. Their goal is to provide support and advice to people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes as well as their family and friends.

ICS 20 Oct 18 concert poster

Ipswich Remembers – 17 March 2018

In collaboration with creative groups from Ipswich and across the region, Ipswich Choral Society will remember the town’s part in the Great War of 1914-18 with a very special event. To mark the centenary of the end of that conflict, music, dance, poetry and animation combine to create an immersive, thought-provoking and moving performance.  We will learn about the personal stories of Ipswich people, both at home and on the front lines, leading up to and during wartime.

Choreographer Mary Davies, with dancers drawn from performing companies supported by DanceEast and community groups of all ages from across Ipswich, will bring these stories to life with music specially commissioned from composer Huw Morgan. The Suffolk Poetry Society and historians from Ipswich Choral Society will recreate the news and people’s experiences amongst songs from the war years, performed by professional and local musicians and vocal soloists. The performance concludes with “Eternal Light: A Requiem” by Howard Goodall (composer of TV themes for QI, Blackadder, The Vicar of Dibley, and many more), which weaves the Requiem texts with moving and beautiful poetry. Joining Ipswich Choral Society and their Music Director Robin Walker are soloists soprano Gwendolen Martin and tenor Tom Randle.

We hope you will join us for this very special event.  Performances on Saturday 17 March 2018 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, each lasts 90 minutes including interval.

Ipswich Remembers main poster


Image of Ipswich Town Hall reproduced with kind permission of Suffolk Record Office, Ipswich branch – Ref K427/9

Ipswich Remembers is supported by Arts Council England National Lottery funding.

Ipswich Choral Society Registered Charity Number 278866.

Britten’s Ceremony of Carols

Britten’s ‘Ceremony of Carols’ accompanied by harp is the finale for Ipswich Choral Society’s first concert of their 2017-18 season. Held at Ipswich School on 2 December, the concert features a delightful programme of music for a winter evening.

Sergei Rachmaninov’s beautiful setting of ‘Ave Maria’ from The Vespers, an arrangement of the traditional Welsh folk song ‘David of the White Rock (Dafydd y Garreg Wen)’ by Arnold Bax and ‘Winter’ by Stevie Wishart, written for Ipswich Choral Society in 2014 are some of the pieces to be performed. Conducted by ICS Music Director, Robin Walker, Ipswich Choral Society are delighted to welcome harpist Helen Sharp who has guested as Principal Harpist with most of the UK Symphony and Chamber Orchestras and pianist William Baldry, Assistant Director of Music at St Mary-le-Tower.

Ipswich Choral Society presents Britten ‘Ceremony of Carols’

  • Robin Walker – Music Director
  • Helen Sharp – Harp
  • William Baldry – Piano


Saturday, 2 December 2017, 7.30pm

Great School, Ipswich School, Ivry Street, Ipswich IP1 3QW


Tickets (includes programme and refreshments):  £15, Students/U16s £7.50

Available from ICS Ticket Line: 01473 625208 or ICS members

Interval refreshments are provided by Creative Cooks.

Hallelujah! Come and sing Handel’s Messiah

Ever wanted to sing the Hallelujah Chorus with a professional Baroque ensemble and outstanding soloists? Of course you have!

Join Ipswich Choral Society and their Music Director Robin Walker to rehearse and perform Handel’s great oratorio “Messiah” – all in one day! Accompanied by professional period instrument ensemble Vivace! and wonderful young soloists from the Royal Academy of Music, it promises to be a truly amazing experience

Everyone is welcome, it’s all about having a great time singing together. The day begins with rehearsal time led by Robin Walker and ends with the choir performing highlights from “Messiah” accompanied by our world-class players and soloists, all in the comfortable and modern surroundings of Suffolk One.

Messiah has always had special place in the hearts of singers and audiences alike. It is my great pleasure to invite you to join us to perform this wonderful work, and to celebrate the joy of singing together. On behalf of us all at Ipswich Choral Society I look forward to welcoming you to join us for what promises to be a fantastic concert.” Robin Walker

Closing date for workshop applications is 4th September. Please call 01473 738324 for further information or visit for a booking form.

Unable to join the choir singing? Never fear, you can experience the amazing concert finale by coming along to enjoy the performance!

“.. the orchestra and soloists were a delight, but nothing can take away from the enthusiastic and much enjoyed performance of the choir. The spontaneous applause after the Hallelujah chorus was indeed well deserved. A most enjoyable and well executed concert, the whole evening a resounding success!

(Ipswich Choral Society, Handel’s Messiah, Ipswich Corn Exchange, March 2016)


Come and Sing Handel’s Messiah with Ipswich Choral Society
Sunday 17th September 2017
Suffolk One, Scrivener Drive, Ipswich IP8 3SU

Workshop registration from 11.30am; rehearsal 12-2.30pm
Cost to take part: £30 (students and U16s £15)
Booking details can be found on or call 01473 738324 for more information

Concert 4pm, tickets £15 (students and U16s £7.50)
Available on the door or via ICS ticket line Tel: 01473 625208

Acknowledgement: photos provided by Matt Clarke of Ipswich & District Photographic Society.

Strawberries and Song

Following their magnificent performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah at Snape, Ipswich Choral Society finishes the current season with a relaxed Sunday afternoon concert. “Strawberries and Song” will be held on 18 June at The Royal Hospital School in Holbook.

Conducted by ICS Music Director, Robin Walker, the concert features two pieces by ICS Vice President, renowned composer Stevie Wishart. Commissioned by the Society to mark their 190th anniversary and premièred at Snape Maltings Concert Hall, “Summer” from Cantata for the Seasons as well as “Magnificat” (from Vespers for St Hildegard) written in honour of the canonisation of Hildegard of Bingen. The concert programme will also feature a collection of popular choral works by Brahms, Fauré, Parry and Whitacre among others.

“Strawberries and Song” starts from 3pm with an opportunity to socialise with the choir whilst enjoying strawberries and cream. The concert will begin at 5pm.

Ipswich Choral Society presents “Strawberries and Song”
Robin Walker – Music Director

Sunday, 18 June 2017
Burns Recital Hall, The Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, Ipswich IP9 2RX
Strawberries from 3pm, Concert starts at 5pm

Ticket price (includes strawberries): £12
Available from Ipswich Choral Society members, ICS Ticket Line: 01473 625208 or from Music World, Queen Street, Ipswich IP1 1SS

Belgian première with “Music for a Summer’s Evening”

Ipswich Choral Society will celebrate their first visit to Belgium with the Belgian première of a work written for them by their Vice President Stevie Wishart. Commissioned by the Society in 2014 to mark their 190th anniversary and premièred at the world famous Snape Maltings Concert Hall, “Summer” from Cantata for the Seasons by renowned composer and Brussels-based Stevie Wishart will be the highlight of the concerts in Belgium.

The wide skies and flatlands of Suffolk inspired the new work, written as a homage to Suffolk-born composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) for the centenary of his birth. Britten, President of Ipswich Choral Society from 1948 to 1958, also founded the Snape Maltings concert hall in 1967.

Britten is one of those composers who has been very important to me in the formation of my own musical language. Growing up in East Anglia, I attended master-classes at Snape from a tender age, and so feel under the Snape/Britten spell. I also adore the skies and flat-lands of Suffolk – again childhood haunts, and so look to this landscape for inspiration.”  Stevie Wishart

Ipswich Choral Society is looking forward to the tour in June and delighted to be performing two concerts “Music for a Summer’s Evening” during their visit to Belgium. The first at Holy Trinity in Brussels is Friday 2 June, with the second the next day 3 June at Sint-Elisabethkerk in Ghent. As well as the première of “Summer”, the concert features “Magnificat” (from Vespers for St Hildegard) by Stevie Wishart written in honour of the canonisation of Hildegard of Bingen. The concert programme will include works by Delius, Brahms, Fauré, Parry and Whitacre, popular with English choral societies.

Music Director, Robin Walker, recently made his Snape debut conducting the Society in a special performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Ipswich Choral Society were joined by special guests Halifax Choral Society, the oldest choral society in the UK, to celebrate 200 years of the English choral society tradition.

.. the orchestra and soloists were a delight, but nothing can take away from the enthusiastic and much enjoyed performance of the choir. The spontaneous applause after the Hallelujah chorus was indeed well deserved. A most enjoyable and well executed concert, the whole evening a resounding success! (Handel’s Messiah, Ipswich Corn Exchange, March 2016)

Many congratulations to the ICS for mounting an impressive programme. Stamina and musicality were outstanding! (Wishart’s Cantata for the Seasons première, Snape Maltings, April 2014)

The choir brought the Seasons to life in such a musical and heart-felt spirit, I only wish I could hear it all again. To my ears it really sounded like it was a piece made for the ICS special sound and it was quite thrilling and moving to hear the character of the various voices. Sitting there in that beautiful Snape concert hall the choir looked and sounded really impressive. (Wishart’s Cantata for the Seasons première, Snape Maltings, April 2014)


Ipswich Choral Society presents “Music for a Summer’s Evening”

Friday 2 June 2017, 19.00

Holy Trinity

Rue Capitaine Crespel 29

1050 Bruxelles

Tickets €10 includes drinks & pre- concert talk; to book visit

Saturday 3 June 2017, 17.00



9000 Ghent

Free concert, retiring collection

Mendelssohn’s Elijah: from start to finish

A live concert is the culmination of hours of rehearsals which audience members are blissfully unaware of when enjoying the performance. An exciting collaboration between two long established Ipswich Societies will highlight the work involved with staging a very special concert at Snape in April 2017.

Ipswich Choral Society has begun work on Mendelssohn’s popular oratorio Elijah with rehearsals being caught on camera by members of Ipswich and District Photographic Society. An exhibition will be held at Snape Malting Concert Hall on 29 April showcasing the best photos from rehearsals and the Elijah performance in Halifax.

Add to this, a collaboration with the oldest Choral Society in the World, and there is the making of a very special experience. Halifax Choral Society, founded in 1817, celebrates its 200th anniversary this year and will be performing Elijah with Ipswich Choral Society at the Snape concert as well as a performance in Halifax on 19th March.

Members from Ipswich and District Photographic Society will be travelling up to Yorkshire with Ipswich Choral Society to also record the pre-concert rehearsal and concert itself on film at The Victoria Theatre in Halifax. These photographs will be part of the Snape exhibition too.

Premièred in 1846 at the Birmingham Festival, Elijah has been a popular piece within the British choral repertory and performed countless times. In 1947, a performance of Elijah was given by Ipswich Choral Society for the centenary of Mendelssohn’s death and soloists included soprano Isobel Baillie and contralto Kathleen Ferrier. In 1980, Ipswich Choral Society performed Elijah at Christchurch in Ipswich with then up-and-coming soprano soloist, Lesley Garrett.

Ipswich Choral Society are delighted to be working with the popular local soprano Claire Weston, alto Susan Moore, tenor James Elliott and baritone Garry Magee for the Elijah concert with the Kingfisher Sinfonietta, led by Beth Spendlove accompanying. In total there will be over 200 singers and musicians on stage, and in charge of them all will be Ipswich Choral Society’s Music Director, Robin Walker. It will be Robin’s Snape conducting debut for this momentous concert.

Ipswich Choral Society presents Mendelssohn’s Elijah

Saturday 29 April 2017, 7.30pm

Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Suffolk IP17 1SP

  • Ipswich Choral Society with special guests Halifax Choral Society
  • Conductor: Robin Walker, ICS Music Director
  • Soprano: Claire Weston
  • Contralto: Susan Moore
  • Tenor: James Elliott
  • Baritone: Garry Magee
  • Kingfisher Sinfonietta, leader Beth Spendlove

In collaboration with Ipswich and District Photographic Society

Tickets: £16, £18, £20 (students £8)

Available direct from ICS members or Snape Maltings Box Office 01728 687110 or