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BBC’s Classical Blunder

By Michael Vincent on March 27, 2023

The BBC has reversed course on its decision to shutter the BBC Singers chamber choir after significant backlash from musicians, the public, and politicians alike.

Announced in March, the original decision to de-fund the nearly centuries-old choir was seen as a cynical divestment in classical music programming to make room for more artistically diverse programming at the BBC. The decision was met with fierce opposition from conductors, choirmasters, and senior government officials.

What’s next? 

It remains uncertain if the corporation will proceed with its plan to reduce salaried orchestral posts across its English orchestras by roughly 20%.

The Musicians’ Union revealed that the choir will now resume its place in this year’s Proms program, and the union will enter into consultations with the BBC to ensure the ensemble’s future remains secure. The union plans to address the proposed 20% cuts with the corporation.

Cautiously hopeful

In a statement to BBC News, the Singers spokesman Sam Evans, said he was feeling good about the announcement. “It goes to show that when you’ve got an important message, you can make your voices heard,” he said. “I feel like the BBC is a family member, but sometimes people in your family take wrong turns, and they need to be told that they’re making a mistake.”

This marks the second U-turn 

…by the BBC this month, following the suspension and subsequent reinstatement of Gary Lineker over his use of social media to criticize the government’s migration policy.

Jo Laverty, the Musicians’ Union’s national organiser for orchestras, stated that the weeks following the BBC’s announcement had brutally impacted those affected. Laverty emphasized the union’s support for its affected members and its commitment to positive negotiations with the Singers and BBC Orchestras.

Naomi Pohl, the union’s general secretary, expressed gratitude for the overwhelming support.

Michael Vincent
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