In this article, you will get all the information regarding No one can match the BBC Singers. Axing them is vandalism | Brindley Sherratt
I won’t let this one go. My professional home for more than 13 years, where I learned my craft, where I learned to just turn up on time, sit down and do my job, is to be axed in favour of something newer, shinier, more “agile” and slightly cheaper.
The BBC has decided to abolish what the composer Pierre Boulez once called the “jewel in its crown”: the BBC Singers. I joined this illustrious group fresh out of college. The audition was rigorous and the competition was intimidating, so I was delighted to make the cut. I was cocky and could already sing and sight-read pretty well but nothing could have prepared me for the level of musicianship of my new colleagues or the speed at which they could rattle through the most fiendish composition at sight and go on to record, broadcast or perform it two days later. I spent the first 18 months singing a split second behind my seasoned chums, and trying to not sing in the rests. This was fast, powerful, beautiful choral singing and professional musicianship on another level. It still is today.
The group is not just any professional choir. There are other groups that are accomplished, polished and more specialised in the classical music world, but none can hold a candle to the BBC Singers for power, consistency, ensemble and in particular, variety. In one week we would sing a couple of hymns for Radio 4’s Daily Service (live, early and terrifying), rehearse and record the most complex score of Luciano Berio or Ligeti and then bang out There is Nothin’ like a Dame on Friday Night Is Music Night.
In the absence of this musical powerhouse, who will perform the newest choral works? It would probably take two costly weeks of rehearsals for an agile ad hoc choir to prepare what the ensemble would rattle off in four days. This is why living composers have nearly always specifically written and asked for the BBC Singers to perform their newest choral works. We recorded and made the first performance of John Tavener’s Song for Athene, which we then sang at Princess Diana’s funeral. Boulez flew us all over the world to perform the most complex contemporary music because no one else could do it either as well or as quickly. This group is unique and lauded across the classical world. Does our Beeb really want to disband such an asset, such an accomplishment?
Despite all the silly spin, it’s clear the reasons behind this destruction are financial. I’m not a bean counter or board member and I don’t have all the facts but I do know this; that the classical music industry in my country is now seriously underfunded, underappreciated and under threat. Yes, more resources should be given to music education but those budding musicians and performers also need inspiration from the very best and eventually they need opportunities.
Tragically, in light of the recent cuts in funding to English National Opera, Glyndebourne’s tour, Welsh National Opera and other orchestras and ensembles, the chances of any kind of career in this industry are now very limited and shrinking daily. I could weep.
Ensembles matter. One member makes up for the deficiencies of a colleague and another perhaps inspires the rest. That comes from knowing your team members by working with them day in, day out. Excellence matters, too, because, as the Bible says, “where there is no vision, the people perish”.
No one can match the BBC Singers. Axing them is vandalism | Brindley Sherratt
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