BBC suspends proposed closure of BBC Singers – BBC News

BBC suspends proposed closure of BBC Singers – BBC News

  • Mark Savage
  • BBC Music Correspondent

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The BBC Singers, a 20-musician choir, was due to close in July.

The BBC has suspended its decision to close the BBC Singers after “many organizations” offered alternative funding.

The only full-time professional chamber choir in the UK, the group was subject to budget cuts just before it celebrated its 100th anniversary.

The proposal provoked a backlash, with 140,000 people signing a petition asking the BBC to overturn its decision.

Temporary reprieve has been given as new funding models are being considered.

In a statement, the BBC said: “We have agreed with the musicians’ union to suspend the proposal to close the BBC Singers while we actively consider these options.

“If viable, these alternative options will secure the ensemble’s future.”

The company also confirmed that the BBC Singers will be performing at this year’s Proms concert.

Previously, the 20-member choir was scheduled to close in July. That meant missing the summer music festival entirely.

Musician’s Union General Secretary Naomi Paul said: “The love for the BBC Singers and the Orchestra has been outpouring over the past few weeks, it’s been incredible and our members are grateful for all they have received. Thank you very much for your support.

“We hope the BBC will recognize the true quality and value they bring to the UK music industry, international music producers and fans, and BBC license fee payers.Musical education is also important. Frankly, it’s irreplaceable.”

A “deplorable” decision

The decision to close BBC Singers was part of a broader program to reduce the BBC’s classical music performance groups announced earlier this month.

It also includes a 20% reduction in the role of the BBC’s British Orchestras (BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra and BBC Philharmonic Orchestra).

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Tenor Adrian Thompson will join the BBC Singers and conductor David Hill for the world premiere of Judith Weir’s In the Land of Us in 2017.

The BBC said this is part of a plan to “prioritize quality, agility and influence”. According to his latest BBC annual report, he spent £25 million on orchestras and performing groups in the previous financial year.

The BBC says a two-year freeze on government-imposed license fees should save £400m by 2027.

The move took the entire classical music world by surprise. Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber called the decision “deplorable” and said the future of licensing fees was in question.

“What happened to our country’s beloved BBC, which has been responsible for some of the greatest classical music broadcasts in history?” he said in Radio Times.

“The neglect of its core principles, along with a lack of transparency that undermines trust both inside and outside the organization, has been under wraps for years.

“Quite rightly, deep questions are now being asked about what, if any, the BBC still stands for.”

The Musicians’ Union says it will continue to fight to defend its role in the BBC’s other performance groups.

Which performance groups are affected?

The BBC Singers, based at the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios in London, are currently being given temporary reprieve as alternative funding models are sought. The choir has performed throughout the UK and around the world, appearing at the BBC Proms each year. Most of its performances are broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

The BBC’s three British orchestras – symphony, concert and philharmonic – will have their roles reduced by 20%.

The BBC Concert Orchestra can be heard on Sunday Night Is Music Night on BBC Radio 2 and on BBC Radio 3. Explore a wide range of music, from classical to contemporary.

The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra is based in Salford’s MediaCity UK and plays one season of concerts each year at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, as well as regular concerts at other venues in the North of England.

The BBC Symphony Orchestra plays a major role at the Proms and also has an annual season at the Barbican in London. Its commitment to contemporary music is demonstrated with various premieres each season.

In a statement, the BBC said it “will continue to engage with the Musicians’ Union and other BBC Unions on our proposal for the BBC’s English Orchestra”.

“We are committed to having meaningful discussions and avoiding forced layoffs wherever possible,” he added.

The company also praised the work of the BBC Singers, stating that “their professionalism, quality and status have never been questioned”.

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