Lunchtime email brought the devastating news of the BBC's proposal to axe the BBC Singers. Although I've been paying attention to the Licence Fee freeze, this move came as a terrible surprise. The Singers have never sounded as good as they do now, their repertoire is ever more all-inclusive (I think immediately of a superb recent concert where an extensive Indian/Bengali themed work by Soumik Datta was teamed with Bach's Magnificat) and they run an extremely tight ship, with just 16 full-time singers and and a very lean administrative/broadcast staff. The proposal aims to lose a total of 20 jobs.
This is the highest pinnacle of ensemble singing. I appreciate the BBC's stated wish to widen its singing outreach, but without this great choir at its core, our famed national choral expertise is going to be gravely eroded. And I'm wondering if hiring in similar ensembles on the frequent occasions they're needed in future is actually going to save BBC money.
In 1980, when I was living in Glasgow, the BBC insisted that they absolutely had to close down the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on financial grounds. I'm so glad that (following a national musicians' strike which closed down several weeks of the Proms) that excellent orchestra remains in existence, and hope that a similar reconsideration of the BBC Singers' strategic importance will start to happen after today.
Pictured - David Hill (former principal conductor), myself, and the BBC Singers at the Proms world premiere of 'In the Land of Uz' in Southwark Cathedral. This was the first major event to take place in the Cathedral when it reopened after the Borough Market Terror Attack in 2017.