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Llandaff Cathedral music cuts
7 January 2014
Just five days before Christmas, Llandaff Cathedral carried out its threat to make five professional part-time lay clerks, a part-time choral scholar and the assistant organist redundant, in order to save £45,000 of a projected budget deficit of £80,000.
The sackings came in the teeth of a six-week campaign to save the professional choir, orchestrated by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, which included fundraising and a petition of over 1,000 signatures. The choir will now consist of boy choristers during the week with a budget to pay adult choristers on an occasional basis for weekend services and special occasions.
A spokesperson for the Cathedral Chapter said it had considered all the proposals put to it, but 'the new funding arrangement for the choir is the best and most responsible way to secure both its long term future, and the future of the cathedral community as a whole. We fear that the alternative of relying on constant fundraising for one area of our responsibilities would overshadow or diminish support for other pressing needs, such as the fabric of the building, and even then could not guarantee a sustainable long term solution.' The spokesperson added that the choir would strengthen relationships with other musical organisations and develop the complementary roles of the girls' and parish choirs.
But ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts said, 'Making people redundant the week before Christmas and at the choir's busiest time of year is a shocking decision that will do lasting damage both to the musical life and the reputation of Llandaff Cathedral. ISM head of legal affairs David Abrahams added: 'This is a terrible decision with huge repercussions for the individuals involved and for Llandaff Cathedral. We believe that donations from supporters of the Save Llandaff Choir Campaign and the Choir’s own fundraising plans could have raised the necessary funds to keep these musicians employed.'
Choral director Suzi Digby OBE joined the chorus of disapproval: 'This is utterly heartbreaking: the Cathedral Chapter must reconsider its options – the importance of choral music, as we have shown time and time again through my Vocal Futures programme – is beyond dispute. Sacking a choir five days before Christmas, denying the younger children the chance to sing with professionals, and refusing to engage in real fundraising to save the choir, beggars belief.'
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