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Conductor blasts BBC's choice to scrap professional choir and replace it with an 'agile' ensemble

Sir John Eliot Gardiner (pictured) said company bosses

Internationally renowned conductor slams BBC’s decision to scrap professional choir and replace with more ‘nimble’ ensemble as ‘scandal’

  • BBC bosses have said the Singers will be replaced by more ‘nimble’ ensembles
  • Sir John Eliot Gardiner called the cuts a ‘scandal’ amid the cuts

An internationally renowned conductor chosen for the king’s coronation has called the BBC’s decision to cut its professional choir a “scandal”.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner has said company bosses ‘don’t care about British classical music’ after deciding to lay off singers from the BBC, Britain’s only salaried professional general choir.

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BBC bosses announced earlier this month that the Singers would be replaced by more ‘nimble’ ensembles to attract musicians across the country, a move Sir Gardiner called ‘baloney’.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today program yesterday, Sir Gardiner said: “I’m sure [the coronation] will be a real party at a time when the powers that be are making appalling drastic cuts.

“There has been a wave of protests over the past few months in outrage over the government’s latest cuts to funding for music and the performing arts.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner (pictured) said company bosses

Sir John Eliot Gardiner (pictured) has said company bosses ‘don’t care about British classical music’ after they decided to cut singers from the BBC

“This week alone the BBC’s senior brass decided to fire BBC singers, which is an outrage.”

“They are the only salaried professional general choir in Britain, and they are also cutting 20% ​​of the musicians from their in-house orchestras.”

He continued: “Even if those BBC bigwigs made those decisions without consultation, you hope they at least listened to what professional classical musicians really think about those cuts.”

Sir Gardiner said British classical music was characterized by its “diversity” and praised BBC singers for reaching out to deprived communities.

Asked what he thought of the BBC’s strategy to disband the Singers and bring in musicians from other parts of the country, he added: ‘I think that’s rubbish.

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“All the evidence suggests that the people who made these decisions don’t care and probably none of them have ever attended a choir concert in their life.”

By contrast, Sir Gardiner said King Charles was ‘a great patron of music’ and the coronation would celebrate traditional composers like Edward Elgar alongside ‘specially commissioned’ music that would reflect ‘ethnic diversity and Britain’s cross-cultural influences.

He added that the coronation would demonstrate “the allure and zest of music” and prove that classical choirs are “not in the least distant.”

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