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Shock at dismantling of Llandaff Cathedral Choir

15 November 2013


From the Revd Clive M. P. Jones

Sir, - As a former Priest Vicar and Canon Precentor of Llandaff Cathedral, I was saddened and appalled when I read your report "Protest at Llandaff choir cuts" (News, 8 November).

Unfortunately, there was a hint of this a few years ago, when the choir ceased to be a boarding choir at the Cathedral School; but the Organist and Master of the Choristers has managed to maintain standards despite this setback.

Surely this problem of finance has not suddenly appeared: where have the various authorities been in preparing contingency plans for the future of the choir? There certainly seems to be a distinct lack of planning by all concerned. Llandaff has proudly been the foremost cathedral choir in the Church in Wales, and has certainly contributed a great deal to the atmosphere of worship at the cathedral. Indeed, it was through the singing of the choir that I, as a music student at Cardiff University, became an Anglican, and a priest.

Are we to let the tradition of a century and a half disappear because of the lack of foresight? This is surely a wake-up call and a challenge to the cathedral authorities to save a precious part of the cathedral life. I hope that former choristers and all interested will act before it is too late.

In days when we hear a great deal about the increase in cathedral congregations throughout the country, often due to the beauty of the music and worship, Llandaff cannot possibly let this precious gift be lost for future generations.

This morning my quarterly copy of Friends of Cathedral Music arrived - and I cannot help but quote from an article about Paisley Abbey. George McPhee, the Organist and Master of the Choristers since 1963, says: "An increased determination to succeed spurs me on to ensure that the Abbey's music will outlast all of us."

Can this be said of the Llandaff authorities today? I wonder!

If I can help, I will be prepared to do so for the sake of cathedral music and the choristers of the future.

31 Lowbury Gardens, Compton RG20 6NN


From Mr John Ewington

Sir, - It is distressing to read about the situation at Llandaff Cathedral regarding the choir and the musicians generally.

This sounds rather like a panic measure that has not been thought through. There are plenty of cathedrals that are in debt, but they do not slash their music department. One of the main reasons why people attend cathedrals is to hear good music, and, if there is none, that in itself will reduce the congregation and, with it, the members' financial support. Once a choir has been dismantled, it is very difficult to build it up again, as any choirmaster will testify.

Surely, with the proper advice, this debt could be cleared. If, for example, everybody in the diocese gave £5, it would probably go a long way to meeting the sum required, and surely local commerce and industry can be brought in to set up an endowment to secure the future of the choir and organists.

Incidentally, I cannot help wondering how the money was raised for the fairly recent splendid new organ. They do not come cheap.

Hillbrow, Godstone Road Bletchingley, Surrey RH1 4PJ

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