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Tributes paid to popular Ipswich musician Olive Stearn

PUBLISHED: 19:30 15 July 2020

Olive Stearn and some of her singers Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Olive Stearn and some of her singers Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Tributes have been paid to a well-known Ipswich musician who has died at the age of 94.

Ipswich choir leader Olive Stearn has died Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYIpswich choir leader Olive Stearn has died Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Olive Stearn, nee Quantrill, was born in Ipswich in 1926 and spent much of her life living and singing in the town.

She attended Clifford Road School until the age of 13 when her time there was cut short by the Second World War.

Mrs Stearn’s passion in life was always music and she developed a love for singing.

It was her fine voice and musical talent got her spotted by a visiting musician who helped her to get a scholarship to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

Olive Stearn in her later years Picture: PETER STEARNOlive Stearn in her later years Picture: PETER STEARN

“She was someone who, from an early age, loved performing and was very much in her element when doing so,” said Mrs Stearn’s son Peter.

“She was always determined to achieve the highest standard possible with her choirs, and recruited singers with good voices, rather than on their ability to read music.”

Mrs Stearn married her husband Sidney, a well-known pharmacist in Ipswich and Justice of the Peace in 1953.

As she grew older, Mrs Stearn’s singing career blossomed and as the years passed she began teaching singing and also conducting choirs.

Olive Stearn receives the Let the People Sing trophy Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILYOlive Stearn receives the Let the People Sing trophy Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

She was described by those who knew her as a very successful and sympathetic teacher and many of her pupils went on to find singing careers.

Mrs Stearn also set up a choir under her own name, the Olive Quantrill Singers.

The choir was very well known having competed successfully in the UK and international sections of the popular choral competition Let the People’s Sing, which was organised by the BBC.

They also took part in many concerts and achieved considerable and lasting fame with their TV performance of, ‘Who Will Buy?’ from the musical Oliver which appeared in the Highway programme when it came to Ipswich with Harry Secombe in 1987.

As well as her namesake choir Mrs Stearn also had a junior choir which she worked on with Donald Swann and she directed other ensembles too.

Mrs Stearn was also involved with the Aldeburgh Festival for several years.

After Mrs Stearn retired she moved to rural France to live out the rest of her days and continued her musical activities with the district parish choirs.

She leaves a son and a grandson, and a large number of friends and admirers in both England and France.


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