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News > Alumni News > OI to Have Choral Work Premiered in Suffolk at Snape Maltings

OI to Have Choral Work Premiered in Suffolk at Snape Maltings

As Ben Ponniah (OI 1995-02) will soon help us host the Class of 2002 Reunion at Ipswich School we thought it an ideal opportunity to catch up with him.

Editor: Hi Ben, we know you are a composer of classical music and that you've been very busy of late. Please share the highlights of the last couple of years with us.

Ben: A significant highlight from 2023 has been winning the St Paul's Cathedral New Music Composition Competition, out of a field of nearly 90 applicants. I was told that my setting of Ave Verum Corpus impressed the jury, which was chaired by Cheryl Frances-Hoad (Cheryl won the prestigious 2023 King's College Cambridge carol commission). I won £1000 and the premiere took place in the Cathedral. Other highlights include completing my PhD in Composition, being invited to be a judge for the Ivors Classical Awards and attending the premiere performance of my largest choral work to date, Begin

In 2022, Boosey & Hawkes started publishing my compositions, and Anna Lapwood released a single of my piece, Seeing the Star, which is currently one of my most popular compositions.

Editor: You mention Begin, I see this is being performed by Woodbridge Choral Society as part of their programme at Snape Maltings on 2nd March. What are your plans for 2024, have you been commissioned to write anything?

Ben: I have been commissioned by Sir Nick and Helen Young to compose a substantial piece of music in memory of their son, Alex. Nick sings in Woodbridge Choral Society and got in touch with me after rehearsals for Begin had started – he loves the piece. Nick and Helen used to worship at St Mary-le-Tower Church in the 1980s with my parents, and I remember Alex from my time at St Margaret's Primary School, Ipswich. 

Editor: Please tell us more about Begin?

Ben: Begin is a celebratory piece about rebirth, new beginnings and the energy one feels after healing from significant loss. It is a 25-minute choral work that has been performed in Australia and the UK. I am beyond thrilled that the Suffolk premiere will take place in the world-famous Snape Maltings Concert Hall, alongside Mozart's Requiem and Beethoven's Choral Fantasy. Andrew Leach, my inspirational former Director of Music at Ipswich School, will be conducting Woodbridge Choral Society from the piano. The combination of collaborating with Andrew Leach, in Snape, and my music featuring alongside Mozart and Beethoven, is a dream come true! 

Editor: What an exciting time. Going forward, what are your ambitions and aims? 

Ben: Begin was inspired, in part, by film music. I have not written anything for film and TV directly, yet. It is something I would love to do. 

Editor: Looking back to your time at Ipswich School, what are your best memories of your time here?

Ben: I learned and laughed a lot at Ipswich School! I am very grateful for all the opportunities I had to make music, in the various choirs and orchestras, including playing the French horn in Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 under Andrew Leach – not many school orchestras would be able to take on such challenging work! I remember Andrew Leach's impressive piano recitals vividly and I made some wonderful friends at school, with whom I am still close to today. 

Editor: You are helping to host the Class of 2002 Reunion on Saturday 2nd March at the School. What are you looking forward to most?

Ben: I'm looking forward to reconnecting and exchanging memories with old classmates, some of whom I have not seen for over two decades! 

Editor: Thank you Ben for taking the time to talk with us.

NOTES

To view 'Seeing the Star' go to - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhiodV2clqE

To watch a recording of Begin visit - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgNSaEbBAuk

For Snape Maltings concert details of Begin go to https://brittenpearsarts.org/events/woodbridge-choral-society-presents-mozarts-requiem

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