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Home > News and Events > Remembering Mrs Joan Hall 1934 – 2020

Remembering Mrs Joan Hall 1934 – 2020

24 May 21

Woodbridge School Music Department 1977 – 1994

We were saddened to learn of the death last year of Mrs Joan Hall.  Many of you will have known her and know that her widower is a former Director of Music at Woodbridge School and their sons are former pupils.  Read on to learn about her fascinating family and life.

Joan had a long and happy life.  She died at home after a short illness with her family, and many friends and relatives visited her or spoke with her on the phone before she died.  She was born in Sydney into one of Australia’s most distinguished families, that Mackerras family, and was the fourth of seven children.

One of the great formative years of Joan’s life was when she came to England to study the violin at the Royal Academy of Music in 1954, and then taught at Headington School, Oxford.  When she didn’t find the right man there her mother persuaded her to return home to Australia to find a husband!  Australia wanted to encourage people to migrate down under and so in 1959 Joan became a £10 POM!

Graeme was the Director of Music of Sydney Grammar School and appointed her as Head of Strings.  She was a musicologist who specialised in eighteenth century violin bowing.  They married in 1965 and came to Europe the following year.

Joan had many funny anecdotes – she had a fabulous sense of humour and was full of joie de vivre.   She was kind, generous, animated, highly intelligent, had a profound love and knowledge of history, literature and classical music and her memory was amazing.  At one point she could speak fluent Italian.  She would often quote pieces of Gilbert and Sullivan, Shakespeare or the Bible.  She was, of course, proud of all her talented siblings but she did so enjoy listening to her brother’s music on Radio 3 and it gave her such a thrill to hear the announcer say “conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras”.  She would know instantly it if was one of his recordings.

Joan joined the music staff of Woodbridge School in 1977 as Head of Strings.  The department was still in its infancy, but there were a growing number of pupils to teach.  The compulsory scheme that every pupil in the 1st Form had to learn an instrument produced a batch of pupils who continued with the violin in the 2nd Form and beyond.  Joan was responsible for organising string quartets and always led the ensembles and orchestras for big musical events.   One of the great successes was the Music Hall evening which she helped organise where the entire music staff were in fancy dress and all performed in duets and ensembles.  Joan also taught sections of the Music A Level course.  This had several components; aural, set works, history and practical.  Joan taught the Sixth Form pupils aural and set works and of course the violin where that was the pupil’s instrument.  She retired from the department in 1994.

Of the many words describing Joan perhaps the most frequent was “inspiring”.  She inspired a love of music, of history, or religion, of places such as France where she and husband Graeme renovated a ruin in the Loire Valley.  She also loved Suffolk, the moon, intellectual conversation and above all classical music.  Joan was the model of Christian love in practicing her Catholic faith.  Her family and friends will miss her beyond measure, her extraordinarily interesting conversation and her loving disposition.  Joan will always be treasured.

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