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Music luminaries protest at St Sepulchre’s plans

24 August 2017

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Musicians’ church: St Sepulchre’s

Musicians’ church: St Sepulchre’s

MORE than 50 musicians, including John Rutter, top composers and performers, and several directors of music at cathedrals, have written a letter to The Guardian protesting against the decision by St Sepulchre’s, Holborn to close its doors to commercial concerts (News, 18 August).

The letter describes the timing of the announcement, during the Proms season, as a “bitter irony”.

“This move was made without consultation and contradicts assurances given when the church was taken over in 2013 by Holy Trinity Brompton,” the letter says. “It is deeply regrettable that the current incumbent, the Revd David Ingall, wishes to exclude superb music, even as he asserts that ‘our ministry as the National Musicians’ Church continues to be a core part of our church’s identity and vision.’ We don’t understand how excluding musicians and listeners who regularly visit the church during rehearsals and concerts would further this goal.

“We understand that churches are principally places of worship and sympathise with the challenges faced in achieving a sustainable balance of activity. However, the unique ‘mission’ for St Sepulchre’s has been to musicians, providing a welcoming space and encouraging them to be involved in running the parish. That its custodians are now willing to abandon this unique national cultural remit is difficult to understand and harder to accept.

“We urge a reversal of this ban on external hirers, followed by open consultation with a range of music stakeholders on a way forward to ensure that the mission of the National Musicians’ Church is assured.”

Signatories include Steven Isserlis, John Rutter, Howard Goodall, James Macmillan, Judith Weir, Will Todd, Andrew Gant, Aled Jones, Giles Swayne, Harry Christophers, Julian Lloyd Webber, and Nigel Short. Others are the directors of music at St Paul’s Cathedral, Southwark, and Rochester Cathedrals, and Christ Church, Oxford.

Another signatory is the director of music at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Dr Andrew Earis, who formerly held the role at St Sepulchre’s. He said last week that, if the two strands of contemporary and traditional music could be combined at the church, it could be a “beacon of hope on how you could bring the Church together”.

In a statement last week, the leadership of St Sepulchre’s said that they would reflect, pray, and consult with musicians.

The full list of signatories:

Steven Isserlis CBE Cellist
Aled Jones MBE Broadcaster
John Rutter CBE Composer
Howard Goodall CBE Composer and broadcaster
James Macmillan CBE Composer
Judith Weir CBE Queen’s master of music and composer
Will Todd Composer
Andrew Gant Composer and organist
Giles Swayne Composer
Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood Principal, Royal Academy of Music
Professor Colin Lawson CBE Director, Royal College of Music
Julian Lloyd Webber Principal, Birmingham Conservatoire
Horace Trubridge General secretary, Musicians’ Union
Alison Fisher Chairman, RSCM London
Rowan Morton Gledhill RSCM trustee
Dr Alan Thurlow Chairman of Bios and organ emeritus, Chichester cathedral
Alan Watt Chief executive, Academy of St Martin in the Fields
Barbara Eifler Executive director, Making Music
Leslie East OBE Chair of trustees, ABCD and Trustee, London Youth Choir
Rachel Staunton Artistic director, London Youth Choir
Professor Nicholas Marston Vice-provost, King’s College, Cambridge
Harry Christophers CBE
Nigel Short Conductor, Tenebrae
Peter Phillips Director, The Tallis Scholars
Dominic Peckham Conductor
Ralph Allwood MBE
Jeremy Summerly Director of music, St Luke’s, Chelsea
Neil Ferris Chorus director, BBC Symphony Chorus
David Hill Conductor, The Bach Choir
Suzi Digby (Lady Eatwell) OBE Conductor
George Vass Conductor
Peter Broadbent Music director, Joyful Company of Singers
Andrew Carwood Director of music, St Paul’s Cathedral
Stephen Layton Fellow and director of music, Trinity College, Cambridge
Patrick Russill
Andrew Nethsingha Director of music, St John’s College, Cambridge
Will Dawes Director of chapel music, Somerville College, Oxford
Dr Edward Wickham Director of music, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge
Dr Andrew Earis Director of music, St Martin-in-the Fields
Scott Farrell Director of music, Rochester Cathedral
Peter Wright Director of music, Southwark Cathedral
Rupert Gough Conductor
Martin Ford Organist and director of music, Royal Military Chapel (The Guards’ Chapel)
Graham Ross Director of music, Clare College, Cambridge
Tim Brown Emeritus director of music, Clare College, Cambridge
Dr David Bednall FRCO Composer and organist
Dr Stephen Darlington Director of music, Christ Church, Oxford
Tom Williams Assistant director of liturgical music, St Martin-in-the-Fields
Dr David Allinson Director of music, Canterbury Christ Church University
Christopher Gower
Carris Jones Vicar choral, St Paul’s Cathedral
Patrick Craig Vicar choral, St Paul’s Cathedral
Bruno Turner
Rev Peter McGeary
Fr Niall Weir Rector of West Hackney
Richard Robbins Founder of Save the National Musicians’ Church and singer

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