Internationally renowned conductor blasts BBC’s decision to scrap its professional choir and replace it with more a more ‘agile’ ensemble as a ‘scandal’
- BBC bosses said the Singers would be replaced with more ‘agile’ ensembles
- Sir John Eliot Gardiner called the cuts a ‘scandal’ amid cutbacks
An internationally renowned conductor chosen for the King’s coronation has blasted the BBC’s decision to scrap its professional choir as a ‘scandal’.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner said the corporation’s bosses ‘don’t give a flying fig’ about British classical music after deciding to axe the BBC singers, Britain’s only salaried professional general choir.
BBC bosses announced earlier this month that the Singers would be replaced with more ‘agile’ ensembles to attract musicians across the country, a decision Sir Gardiner labelled as ‘baloney’.
Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme yesterday, Sir Gardiner said: ‘I am sure [the coronation] will be a real celebration at a time when the powers that be are doing some appalling draconian cutbacks.
‘There’s been a wave of protests over the last months in outrage against the latest cuts by the government in funding for music and performing arts.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner (pictured) said the corporation’s bosses ‘don’t give a flying fig’ about British classical music after deciding to axe the BBC singers
Sir Gardiner said that King Charles was ‘a great patron of music’ and that the coronation would celebrate traditional composers
‘Now only this week the BBC top brass have decided to axe the BBC singers, which is a scandal.
‘This is Britain’s only salaried professional general choir, and they are cutting 20 per cent of musicians in their in-house orchestras as well.’
He continued: ‘Even though these big wigs at the BBC made these decisions without consultation, you would at least hope that they might have listened to what professional classical musicians really think about these cuts.’
Sir Gardiner said British classical music was characterised by its ‘diversity’ and praised BBC singers for reaching out to deprived communities.
When asked what he thought about the BBC’s strategy to disband the Singers and bring in musicians from other parts of the country, he added: ‘I think that’s baloney.
‘All the elements suggest that the people who have made these decisions don’t give a flying fig and probably none of them have ever attended a choral concert in their lives.’
In contrast, Sir Gardiner said that King Charles was ‘a great patron of music’ and that the coronation would celebrate traditional composers like Edward Elgar alongside ‘specially commissioned’ music that would reflect Britain’s ‘ethnic diversity and cross-cultural influences’.
He added that the coronation would demonstrate ‘the sheer attractiveness and zest of the music making’ and prove that classical choirs are ‘not the least bit remote’.
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