Plans to scrap BBC Singers send ‘incredibly grim message’ – letter

Senior members of the UK choral industry say proposals to drop BBC singers “send an incredibly grim message to those considering entering the profession”.

A letter published in The Times and signed by representatives of UK freelance professional choral companies said the decision was “a huge false economy”.

The decision to close the BBC Singers, announced last week, would result in the loss of 20 jobs, the BBC previously confirmed.

The company has also announced plans to cut salaried orchestra posts at the BBC English Orchestras by around 20%.

The signatories said they and other members were “united in our utmost dismay” at the proposed dissolution of Britain’s only full-time professional chamber choir.

“This decision is indicative of the continued devaluation of choral music and the nation’s rich and distinguished choral heritage,” the letter said.

“There are seven radio choirs in Germany, but the BBC, rightly proud of being the world leader, is proposing to scrap the UK’s only one.”

The letter continued: “The 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, many freelance companies find it difficult to match the BBC’s performance in this area. Together we are infinitely stronger.

“Our internationally respected choral sector operates in a fragile and interdependent ecology, with professional singers gaining experience and employment opportunities across diverse ensembles.

“The BBC singers are a crucial part of that and this decision sends an incredibly somber message to those considering entering the profession.

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

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

Earlier this week, the chairman of the Ivors Academy Classical Council, Lloyd Coleman, urged the BBC to reconsider proposed cuts to groups performing classical music, warning of the implications for the future of music.

Mr Coleman’s letter was signed by 462 musicians expressing their support for BBC singers and cast members affected by the proposed cuts.

The BBC previously said the plans follow a 2022 review looking at the classical sector and its role in it – and are part of a new classical music strategy that “prioritizes quality, agility and impact”.

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


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