BBC Singers: closure decision to be suspended
The BBC is looking at alternative funding solutions for the much-loved choir, and has confirmed that the Singers will perform at the 2023 BBC Proms
Following widespread criticism of its decision to disband the BBC Singers, the BBC has now suspended the decision to close its in-house chamber choir. The Corporation has revealed that it has received a number of alternative funding suggestions for the much-loved choir, and that it will now explore these possible solutions.
'We have agreed with the Musicians’ Union that we will suspend the proposal to close the BBC Singers, while we actively explore these options,' confirms George Chambers, the BBC's head of communications (classical music). 'If viable, these alternative options would secure the future of the ensemble.
'We can also confirm the Singers will appear in this year’s BBC Proms.'
The original decision to close the BBC Singers (which is due to celebrate its centenary in 2024) was made in the light of the Corporation's 2023 Classical Review. This new strategy for classical music aims ‘to strengthen the BBC’s public purpose for classical music, delivering the best music to a wider audience, with a significant new investment in music education’.
'We know that the BBC Singers are much loved across the classical community and their professionalism, quality and standing has never been in question,' Chambers continues. 'We have said throughout these were difficult decisions.
'Therefore, we want to fully explore the options that have been brought to us to see if there is another way forward. The BBC still needs to make savings and still plans to invest more widely in the future of choral singing across the UK.
'The BBC, as the biggest commissioner of music and one of the biggest employers of musicians in the country, recognises it has a vital role to play in supporting orchestral and choral music.
'We will continue to engage with the Musicians’ Union and the other BBC Unions about our proposals on the BBC’s English Orchestras. We are committed to meaningful consultation and to avoiding compulsory redundancies, wherever possible.'
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ISM welcomes decision to pause on closing the Singers
The Independent Society of Musicians (ISM) has welcomed the decision to suspend closure of the BBC Singers and to look into alternative funding models.
Responding to the announcement, the ISM's chief executive Deborah Annetts said, ‘We are delighted and relieved that the BBC Singers are not facing immediate closure. This is the right decision and we thank the BBC for listening to the sector.
‘The international outrage over the decision shows just how popular the BBC Singers are across the globe. We are concerned about the proposal to look at new models of funding and urge the BBC to find a solution that secures the long-term future of the group.
‘There are also other issues to resolve, including the decision to cut the three English BBC orchestras by 20%, which the BBC’s own previous reports have shown to be unviable, but this is a positive step. We thank all the organisations and musicians and audience members who have taken the time to stand alongside the ISM and help to save the much-loved Singers.’
Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.