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Discouragement of church musicians

by
22 November 2013

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From Mr Stephen Mott

Sir, - Edward Wickham (Radio, 8 November) asserts that "church music is continuing to flourish even when Anglican churchgoing continues to decline." Yet we read in the same issue (and that of 15 November) about the cuts to Llandaff Cathedral Choir for financial reasons.

We are told that men and boys are increasingly absent from our churches nationally. Without them, the church community is diminished and incomplete. Additionally, four-part choral singing has a very uncertain future, whether in church choirs or secular ones. It seems to me to be mindless to make cuts that result in the further reduction of men and boys in church.

Furthermore, it seems that if we are to "grow disciples" (as the Carlisle diocese keeps reminding us), we ought to invest both time and money in those activities that attract children, both boys and girls. Singing a wide range of music in a well-run, high-quality church choir is one of the most effective ways of attracting children to church.

I am organist and music director of a church in a different parish from my home here in Cumbria. I have tried over the past three years to develop children's-music work, attract new singers to an ageing (but able) choir, and "grow disciples" though an open, exciting programme (partly based on RSCM materials), embracing all types of church music from plainsong to pop song. I have consistently failed. The response has been almost nil. In other dioceses in the past, I have succeeded.

The message that comes from cutting choirs is that church music is not valued, and the church musicians who are trying to deliver good church music as part of Christian outreach are not respected. This subliminal message spreads to all churches, not just those directly affected by cuts. It makes those of us who are left trying to carry out the Church's mission through music feel isolated and dejected.

STEPHEN MOTT
15 Church Street, Shap, Penrith CA10 3JU

 

From Dr Christopher Wilkinson

Sir, - The decimation of the music tradition at Llandaff bears all the hallmarks of an accountant's cold and unemotional knee-jerk reaction to the situation, which comes with complete disregard for tradition.

The Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Ven. Peggy Jackson, who currently has oversight of the cathedral, was, (before being ordained later in life) an accountant.

CHRISTOPHER WILKINSON
3 The Terrace, Rhymney NP22 5LY

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