Royal Coronation composer Shirley J Thompson OBE, Fellow of The Ivors Academy Julian Joseph, composer and conductor Sir James MacMillan, Ivor Novello winning composer Robin Haigh, Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement winner Erika Fox, award winning composer Raymond Yiu and Ivor Novello nominated composer Anne Dudley have co-signed a letter with 462 composers and musicians showing their support for the BBC Singers and performers affected by the proposed cuts, and calling for the BBC to re-think their decision.
The letter from composer Lloyd Coleman, Chair of the Academy’s Classical Council and Associate Music Director of Paraorchestra, describes the dismay with which the BBC’s new strategy for classical music has been met by its employees, and composers, musicians and listeners across the country. The strategy includes disbanding the BBC Singers and reducing the workforce of three of the BBC’s performing ensembles by 20%.
The letter points out that the BBC is the largest composer and contemporary classical music in the UK. Last year, a survey from The Ivors Academy showed that 62% of past winners and nominees for The Ivors Composer Awards had been commissioned by the BBC or a BBC ensemble. And that “This commitment is epitomised by the BBC Singers, who have delivered world-class performances of new music for almost a century. They occupy a unique place not only within the BBC, but in our national musical life as a whole, as the UK’s only full-time choir.”
Lloyd Coleman said, “As a community of composers, we unequivocally support our colleagues at the BBC affected by the proposed cuts. As world-class musicians they hold a unique place in our cultural life and underpin the careers of so many composers, allowing us to bring new music to audiences across the UK and internationally. Their loss would be deep and long-lasting, and we call on the BBC to re-think this decision.”
The Ivors Academy surveyed past winners and nominees in 2022 to mark 20 years of The Ivors Composer Awards. It demonstrated the importance of state school education and the BBC to the careers of acclaimed classical, jazz and sound arts composers.
64% of respondents attended a state-funded school and 21% had a bursary to go to an independent school. 62% had received at least one commission from the BBC or one of its ensembles. 44% of respondents said that commissions have decreased in frequency since the start of their career.