Let them sing

The Christmas sound of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, or the stirring words of Guide me, O thou great Redeemer at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee service at St Pauls seemed as reliable and solid as the stone of the ancient buildings where they were sung.

 

But choral music, in which Britain excels, by disposition and the fortunes of history, is a thing of flesh and blood. Choristers learn miraculous talents at an early age and pass them on.

 

Cathedrals and Oxbridge colleges day by day make this living thing an inheritance and thousands throughout the land sing weekly in their churches for the love of it. As scores of those associated with choirs say in a letter to The Daily Telegraph 11 July 2020, they need to be allowed to keep this tradition alive. Science supports them. It is time the Government did too.”

 

Bare ruined choirs

“SIR – The emergency funding for the arts announced by Oliver Dowden is hugely welcome. However, the work of church and synagogue musicians across the country is still under serious threat, with some professional choirs already facing permanent disbandment. We need clear steps towards the reinstatement of musicians’ work in religious services.

Many of us already work in a way that is very socially distanced – singing from balconies and organ lofts.

Yet, the Government has made an un-nuanced statement regarding singing in places of worship: if possible, don’t do it.

It has even suggested that churches should replace musicians with recordings. If this happens, will live music-making in places of worship ever return?

 

Since March, singers and directors of music have been waiting for clarification on when (or if) we are likely to be reinstated. We want, and need, to get back to work keeping the great choral tradition in this country alive. Please allow us to do so.”

 

Bob Chilcott Composer, Charles Cole Director of Scola Cantorum of the London Oratory School, Anna Lapwood Director of Music, Pembroke College, Cambridge, Adrian Partington Director of Music, Gloucester Cathedral, Roxanna Panufnik Composer, Nigel Short Artistic Director of Tenebrae, Judith Weir Former Master of the Queen’s Music, Cecilia McDowall Composer and 242 others; “

 

Religious music ‘under threat’ warn composers and musicians Government has advised places of worship to play recorded music to help mitigate the impact of coronavirus from singing

By Gabriella Swerling, SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS EDITOR

10 July 2020

Religious music is “under threat”, hundreds of Britain’s leading musicians, composers and directors have warned, after the government banned signing and advised churches to play recordings.

 

Last week the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, announced emergency funding for the arts, with more than £1.5 billion released in the form of grants and loans to  preserve “crown jewels” in the arts sector.

However a coalition of more than 200 leading figures in the music world, have warned that while this emergency funding is “hugely welcome”, “the work of church and synagogue musicians across the country is still under serious threat, with some professional choirs already facing permanent disbandment”.

 

“We need clear steps to be taken towards the reinstatement of musicians’ work in religious services.”

 

In a letter to The Telegraph – signed by signatories including the likes of the composer, Bob Chilcott, the Director of Music, Pembroke College, Cambridge, Anna Lapwood, and the composer, Roxanna Panufnik – the industry figures call on the government “to speed up the return to work of church and synagogue musicians, many of whom are at risk of losing their jobs, or have already done so”.

Their comments echo those of Britain’s leading choirmasters and conductors who last weekend criticised the ban on singing in churches as based on “assumptions, not science”.

 

The letter continues: “Many of us already work in a way that is very socially distanced – singing from balconies and organ lofts.

Yet the government has issued an un-nuanced statement regarding singing in places of worship: if possible, don’t do it.

 

“They have even suggested that churches should replace musicians with recordings. If this happens, will live music-making in places of worship ever return?

 

“Since March, singers and directors of music have been waiting for clarification on when (or if) we are likely to be reinstated.

 

We want, and need, to get back to work keeping the great choral tradition in this country alive. Please allow us to do so.”

 

”Other signatories to the letter include: Adrian Partington, Director of Music at Gloucester Cathedral and Co-Conductor of the Three Choirs Festival, Nigel Short, Artistic Director of Tenebrae, the Director of the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School, Charles Cole, Judith Weir, Former Master of the Queen’s Music, and the composer, Cecilia McDowall. “

 

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), said: “Protecting the public during the pandemic is our number one priority and that has meant limiting some activities that carry a higher risk in transmitting the disease.

“We fully recognise the importance of choirs and musicians to religious services and are working with partners to assess how these activities can be managed safely based on the latest scientific advice.”

 

The above extracts are taken from The Daily Telegraph 10 & 11 July 2020 as a reflection of the current state of singing in churches.