Singing Group Abruptly Disbanded

The BBC has announced the closure of the BBC Singers, the UK's only full-time professional chamber choir and one of the company's six salaried performing groups. The decision to close the near-century-old choir was announced earlier this month, with OperaWire reporting that the move will eliminate 20 jobs. The BBC's Head of Orchestras and Choirs, Simon Webb, also announced a 20% reduction in salaried posts at the BBC Symphony and Concert Orchestras in London and Manchester's Philharmonic Orchestra.

The BBC Singers' abrupt closure comes amid a new strategy to create "agile ensembles" that can work with "more musicians and broadcasting from more venues" around the UK, the corporation explained, per the BBC. The BBC Singers would be replaced by investment "more widely in the future of choral singing across the UK" and a choral development program for new talent, it said.

"This new strategy is bold, ambitious and good for the sector and for audiences who love classical music," Charlotte Moore, chief content officer at the BBC stated on the BBC website. That doesn't mean that we haven't had to make some difficult decisions, but equally they are the right ones for the future."

The move has been met with much controversy. In a statement, the Musician's Union (MU) General secretary Naomi Pohl noted that "the BBC is the biggest employer and engager of musicians in the UK and it plays a unique role in the ecosystem of our music industry," adding, "From Glastonbury to the Proms, from Jools Holland to BBC Radio, its coverage, support and promotion of British musical talent nationally and internationally is unrivalled. It is because we appreciate the BBC's role so much that these proposed cuts are so utterly devastating." Pohl also stated that the union would "fight for ever job."

Pohl is not the only one to speak out against the decision. A letter signed by 700 composers was sent to BBC Director General Tim Davie condemning the "devastating" closure of the BBC Singers, per The Guardian. The letter states that "the loss of this extraordinary group would be devastating for the future of the art form, for the composers it champions and for the audiences it serve." A petition has also received more than 120,000 signatures. Titled "Stop the planned closure of the BBC Singers," the petition urges the BBC "to reconsider this devastating and damaging decision to disband the BBC Singers."