Plans to remove BBC singers send ‘incredibly bleak message’: letter

A letter published in The Times, and signed by representatives of the UK’s independent professional choral ensembles, called the decision “a huge false economy”.

The decision to close BBC Singers, announced last week, would mean the loss of 20 positions, the BBC previously confirmed.

The corporation has also announced plans to reduce salaried orchestral positions in BBC English orchestras by around 20%.

The signatories said they and other members were “united in our utter dismay” at the planned disbandment of the UK’s only full-time professional chamber choir.

“This decision is indicative of the continuing devaluation of choral music and of the nation’s rich and excellent choral heritage,” the letter states.

“In Germany there are seven radio choirs, but the BBC, rightly proud of being a world leader, is proposing to abolish the only one in the UK.”

The letter continued: “BBC Singers have an incredible track record of introducing a wide range of people, including new generations of children, to the life-enhancing benefits of choral singing.

Lloyd Coleman and Raymond Yui
Lloyd Coleman and composer Raymond Yui (The Ivors Academy/PA)

“With tight and precarious budgets, it is difficult for many independent ensembles to match the BBC’s output in this area. We are immensely stronger together.

“Our internationally revered choral sector operates within a fragile and interdependent ecology, with professional singers gaining experience and employment opportunities in different ensembles.

“BBC singers are a fundamental part of that, and this decision sends an incredibly bleak message to those considering entering the profession.

“While we recognize the financial pressures facing the BBC, this decision is a huge false economy.”

The Times letter is the latest appeal to the BBC to reconsider its decision.

Earlier this week, Ivors Academy Classical Council Chairman Lloyd Coleman urged the BBC to reconsider proposed cuts to classical music performance groups and warned of the consequences for the future of music.

Coleman’s letter was signed by 462 musicians showing their support for BBC singers and artists affected by the proposed cuts.

The BBC previously said the plans follow a 2022 review looking at the classical sector and its role within it, and form part of a new strategy for classical music that “prioritises quality, agility and impact”.

The move is part of a plan “to invest more widely in the future of choral singing across the UK” and launch a choral development program for new talent, the broadcaster said.


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