BBC Singers: Music and the BBC – and beyond

The Musicians’ Company endorses wholeheartedly the views expressed in the open letter coordinated by composer, co-founder and director of the vocal ensemble EXAUDI, James Weeks. That approaching 700 composers around the globe, a number of whom have been honoured by our Company, added their names in support within a mere 24 hours indicates the sense of disbelief shared by so many of us following the news that the BBC Singers are under threat of being disbanded.

Coupled with the proposed cut in the number of salaried positions within BBC orchestras, the Musicians’ Company urges in the strongest possible terms, that the decision-makers at the BBC think again. For over 500 years our Company has championed and encouraged music in all its forms and musical performance of the highest quality, epitomised by ensembles that include those of the calibre of the BBC Singers.

This is not some elitist stance, since music is central to human existence and not some form of ‘optional extra’. As such, music should in our view occupy a central role in both our culture and education, whatever its form or genre, to support and develop all the skills embodied in music-making and its enjoyment: the development of imagination, resourcefulness, resilience, team working, problem solving and technical skills. Sadly, successive governments and some institutions seem to have taken a differing view.

The Musicians’ Company is not a political organisation; it is dedicated to supporting young musicians at the start of their professional career. Our prize winners (our Young Artists) take live performance to schools that may have little music in their curriculum and use music as a therapeutic tool in SEND schools and care settings. However, we feel strongly that it is right to speak out when one of the most basic and essential components of our social fabric is undermined or threatened, which seems to us apparently to be the case here. The music industry is creative, not just in terms of the personal enrichment that music itself brings to each individual, but also in the billions of pounds it contributes to the nation’s financial wellbeing. Such enrichment requires appropriate investment in order to be sustainable over time.

These proposals are ill-founded and must be reconsidered.


Jeff Kelly

The Master

The Musicians’ Company