BBC Singers saved with a VOCES8 Foundation partnership


The BBC has announced that the BBC Singers will continue in its present form, its education and community engagement work now ‘supported’ by the VOCES8 Foundation.

The professional choir will continue to be paid by the BBC, and remain ‘core’ to Radio 3 output and the BBC Proms. All this in time for the BBC Singers centenary. 

This is fantastic news. It’s quite the turnaround too. Last year (ish) the BBC announced it’s then new classical music strategy which saw a cull of the BBC Singers outright and the threat of 20% of personnel in BBC English orchestras being cut too.

The uproar was considerable, the decision coming hot on the heels of similar decision-making coming out of Arts Council England a few months before.  

That a solution has been arrived at that retains talent, and sets up the ensemble for the future is fantastic for classical music in the UK, spurring on campaigners, influencers and decision-makers to continue to make the case for a valuable art form.

In the same announcement, the BBC also referenced its ongoing discussions with the Musicians Union regarding the future of ‘resources’ in the BBC orchestras.  

“In maintaining all of the BBC’s distinctive orchestras, we will consider the resourcing levels which support each ensemble as their work develops across broadcast, education and commercial activity. This will be a gradual process in which we will work closely with the Unions and our musicians, alongside a review to modernise terms and conditions making sure these are aligned with the BBC’s principles of fairness and transparency.” 

Regular readers of the Thoroughly Good may recall the contribution this blog made to the initial campaign to save the BBC Singers and orchestral musicians whose jobs were under threat.

Thoroughly Good’s campaigning was passionate, forthright, and uncompromising, a response to what felt at the time like an assault on classical music and the arts that was found beyond the BBC. Those decisions seemed to illustrate a much wider systematic attack on an art form that was going on at the time, a malaise that went to the heart of Thoroughly Good’s editorial purpose.

The response from this blog was unequivocal and vociferous. It was a defining moment for the platform where purpose and mission crystallised in pursuit of saving jobs and reinforcing the message that classical music matters.

Thoroughly Good’s efforts generated noise and raised awareness – the really important, solutions-driven work was done by industry leaders who have achieved something brilliant. Inevitably and quite understandably Thoroughly Good’s actions resulted in some irrevocably damaged relationships. Disappointing, but not something to regret. Some will no doubt say it’s deserved.

No matter. The BBC Singers were saved, and with it a renewed sense of hope for the BBC’s orchestral musicians and classical music in the UK.