A few months before his death, Ian wrote a summary of his remarkable life, which is reproduced below.
Ian Humphris, 1927–2012
Ian, who had come to spend more and more time in Halesworth in recent years, and was planning to move to the area permanently, died of a heart attack in London on Friday November 16th.
Though a considerable age, he had always been so energetic and lively of mind, that even now, a few days on, it seems difficult to grasp that we can no longer enjoy his company, his wit, and above all his absolute commitment to excellent music-making.
After graduating with distinction and prizes for composition from the Royal Academy of Music in 1952, he had a full and varied career in his early years as a singer, and as a BBC TV and radio performer, presenter, and educator, particularly for young audiences. He sang in many ensembles, of which the most notable were the Linden Singers, which he came in time to direct, and the Purcell Singers, under Imogen Holst, which performed for many years at the Aldeburgh Festival.
From 1966 to 2006 he coached and conducted the National Westminster Bank Choir, which took him to all the principal venues for music in London, such as the Barbican, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the Royal Albert Hall.
At the same time he was very busy composing for TV and Radio, and a major choral work for the NatWest Choir, “God’s Grandeur”. He also had a wonderful talent for arranging existing music, which will be evident if you come to the HFV Carol Concert on Friday, December 14th, in St Mary’s at 7pm.
For over 20 years he was Head of Choral studies and Singing for the London Centre for Young Musicians, and for 27 years (up to this past summer) he directed the Choral course at the Charterhouse Summer School. The formidable energy, loyalty and commitment he had to offer are clear.
Into the humbler waters of Halesworth he waded with enthusiasm in 2007, founding the Halesworth Festival Voices, getting terrific concert performances from us amateurs, and liking it all so much that he was on the verge of selling his small cottage in Halesworth and buying something more substantial.
His last major concert here was in October, as part of the Halesworth Arts Festival, and featured the little-known graduation piece by the young Puccini, “Gloria di Messa”. As usual, he found two superb young soloists from the Royal Academy to sing with us. Parts of this concert were electric, and it was a hugely rewarding challenge for us Voices.
It was Ian’s way never to let us accept second best, and to show us how good music could be made – and how Italian should be pronounced. We owe him a great deal for that, as well as for his good company and inexhaustible joie de vivre, and we miss him very much indeed.