Lucy Thraves


‘Create a route back to making music again’: key industry figures write to culture secretary

1:16, 3rd July 2020

Key music industry figures have signed a letter to the culture secretary Oliver Dowden asking him to reconsider the place of amateur music-making in the government’s plans for cultural renewal post lockdown. 

In particular, they criticise the lack of scientific research into the risks of musical activities and the failure to provide workable guidance for musical organisations.

The letter is published in full below:

Dear Mr Dowden,

Create a route back to making music again

We are alarmed at reports, including in The Times, that an extended ban on amateur music making is being considered by you and the Cultural Renewal Taskforce. Writing in The Times, Richard Morrison is right to highlight the great anxiety felt by millions of participants in amateur music making in the UK at the prospect of an extended ban on musical activities as a result of a failure to invest in scientific research into their risks and to provide workable guidance. Such research and guidance would benefit all musicians, and there are promising European research projects we can build on.

Amateur and youth musicians derive enormous benefits from singing in choirs, playing in orchestras, bands and other ensembles. The sheer pleasure of participation in music is a significant source of wellbeing and, in an increasingly atomised world, a driver of community cohesion. The music industry is currently being significantly supported by amateur and youth musicians – it is they who are employing freelance professional music teachers, buying instruments, purchasing sheet music, donating to livestreams, donating concert ticket refunds – while other professional fees have disappeared. These groups usually receive no external funding. In normal times amateur and youth groups employ many professional musicians, rent and purchase performance materials, and hire concert halls and other venues. All their professional suppliers will struggle without a return to normality for these groups as soon as possible.

A route back to broad musical participation is urgently required.

Yours sincerely,

Sarah Alexander OBE; Chief Executive & Artistic Director, National Youth Orchestra of Great BritainMatthew Altham; Musical Director, Pegasus ChoirBeti Lyn Alwyn-Jones • Diana Ambache; Director Ambache Chamber OrchestraKeiron Anderson; Musical Director Nottingham Symphonic Wind Orchestra, Yorkshire Wind Orchestra Phoenix Concert BandHazel Anderson • Michael ArmstrongIrene Auerbach • Philip Austin; Librarian, London Phoenix Orchestra, The Rehearsal Orchestra and Philharmonia Britannica • Martin Baglow; Chairman, The British Association of Barbershop SingersCaroline Balding • Sally Beamish; composerQuintin Beer; Freelance Choral ConductorLucy Bell • Dr David Blazey; Independent Consultant • Gill Blazey; school music teacherSteve Block; Former Music Advisor, London Borough of Enfield Founder, West London Sinfonia • Laura Bookbinder LLCM ALCM; freelance and peripatetic teacher of woodwind • Stephen Bradley; Musical Director – Luton Concert Band, Conductor – Luton Concert Orchestra • Laura Bradshaw; Trustee of the Natural Voice Network (NVN)Cathy Phillips Brady; Freelance Creative ProducerJack Bridger; Musical Director, Porthcawl Community OrchestraPeter Britton • J M Britton • Viv Brown; 1st Violin, Solihull Symphony OrchestraAlice Brunton; Treasurer North East Early Music Forum and committee member Northern Praeclassica choirNancy Buchanan; Haydn Chamber OrchestraJean Buck; Member of Nonesuch orchestra and The London Chorus  • David Burgess; Director, Apollo FundraisingTim Burnage; Music Teacher, Huntington School • Ian Burrell; Hon Treasurer, Hereford Musical Theatre Company, Adult Volunteer Singer, Academia Musica Choir, Worship Leader, Hereford Baptist Church • Amanda Butler; Manager, London City Orchestra • Gary Carpenter; Professor of composition RNCM & RAM, Ivors Academy director  • Phil Castang; Director of Creative Learning and Engagement, Bristol Music TrustElizabeth Cave • Nicola Chessum • Neil Chippington; Chair, Choir Schools’ AssociationSam Coates; Director of Music – Graveney Trust • Dr K Coope; Committee member, and past Chair, Huntingdonshire PhilharmonicEmma Cordell; Chair, Yorkshire Wind OrchestraTim Costen; Treasurer, Bloomsbury Chamber OrchestraNic Cottham; Trustee, Take Note Concert Band Essex • Helen Creedy; Exeter Symphony Orchestra Membership SecretaryElizabeth Crew; player and Chair of Nailsea Concert OrchestraKenneth Crookston; CEO, Brass Bands EnglandEric Cross; Emeritus Professor of Music & Culture, Newcastle University • Noa Davies • Lisa Devlin; Clarinettist, life-long community musician, secretary of All Saints Concert Band • Marc Dooley; Music Director, Fulham Symphony Orchestra • Jonathan Dove CBE; ComposerSteve Dummer; conductor Horsham Symphony OrchestraLiz Dunbar; Director of Music Huntington Secondary School, YorkLeslie East OBE; Chair, Association of British Choral Directors • Barbara Eifler; CEO, Making MusicDavid Evans; Chair, Solihull Symphony Orchestra • Anne Fairbank; Assistant manager HARROWMUSICSERVICE • Sue Fletcher DipABRSM; Director of Blooming Flutes Flute Choir • John Forte; Chair Torbay Symphony Orchestra • Tom Fowkes; Musical Director, The New Tottenham SingersMarion Friend MBE; Chair Wimbledon Symphony OrchestraJohn Gibbons, BEM; Music Director of Ealing Symphony Orchestra, Northampton Symphony Orchestra, St Albans Chamber Choir, Clifton Cathedral ChoirAlan Grant; Chairman, Insurance Orchestral Society • Dr James Greener; Chair of Nonesuch Orchestra, and Manager of Ealing Symphony OrchestraLouise Greene • Sally Groves • Jayne Guest; Jayne Guest MusicTom Hammond; Co-Artistic Director, Hertfordshire Festival of MusicPaul Hannon; Bass Clarinet, Yorkshire Wind Orchestra • Patrick Harrex; Musical Director, Brighton & Hove Arts OrchestraHelen Harrison; Music Director Blackpool Symphony Orchestra, Preston Opera, Lytham St.Anne’s Choral SocietyRichard Heason; Director – St John’s Smith SquarePhilip Hesketh; Music Director West London Sinfonia  • Jane Higgins; retired conductor Southampton Youth Orchestra  • David Hill; Musical Director of The Bach ChoirBarbara Höfling; German Choir of London • Chris Hopkins; Music Director of the Orchestra of the CitySarah HullFenella Humphreys; violinist • Martyn Humphreys • Andy Jackson; Director The Cobweb OrchestraMatthew Jelf; Director of Music, Chichester Cathedral Choir School & Artistic Director of Brighton16 Chamber Choir  • Rosemary Jiggens; string ensemble coach, Highgate Strings ClubRobert Johnstone; Music Director Colne Endeavour Band • Outi Jokiharju; Development Officer, Rehearsal Orchestra • Tim Jones; organiser, Farnborough WindsCarys Jones; Nonesuch Orchestra, committee memberLindsay Joyce-Blank; Secretary, Yorkshire Wind Orchestra • Dave Joyce; Musical Director Sheffield Youth Big Band, Trombonist Keith Peter’s Big Band • Vivien Karam; Chair, West London SinfoniaRussell Keable; Music Director, Kensington Symphony OrchestraVicky Keane; City of Derby Youth OrchestraSimon Lee • Alex King; Chair, Salomon OrchestraDavid King; Treasurer, Thames Valley Early Music Forum • Sharen Kingham • Sarah Kuzan • Dr David Lancaster; Director of Music, York St John UniversityJerry Lanning; conductor and arranger • Lucy Le Fanu; Patron, W11 Opera for Young People • Nicola LeFanu; composerLouise Lingard-Snape • Claire Loftus; Chair of Sale Chamber Orchestra and City of Manchester Opera • Graham Longfils; Leader 3 Worcestershire OrchestrasPhilip Mackenzie; Director of the Mozart Symphony OrchestraRoss Macrae; Trustee of the London Gay Symphonic Winds  • Quentin Maxwell-Jackson; Chairman, Easter Orchestral SocietyLesley Mcalpine; amateur clarinet playerNicola McDonnellBridget Merchant; Chair, Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra  • Gabi Mills; Dartmouth Orchestra publicity manager • Ian Mitchell; clarinettist and Director Gemini • Alice Monk; General Manager, Music Industries Association and Music for All Charity • Alex Murchie; Secretary to the Trustees, Opera Sunderland • Freddy Naftel; composer, teacher and percussionistThomas Neal; Director of Music, New College School, OxfordTom Newall; Musical Director Salford Choral SocietyAnne-Marie Norman; Administrator, Rehearsal OrchestraDominic Nudd; Trustee Westminster Philharmonic OrchestraEamonn O’Dwyer • Margaret Oliver; Chair of Trustees: British Kodály AcademyMike Oswald • Emma Palmer • Roxanna Panufnik; ComposerLev Parikian; Artistic Director, The Rehearsal Orchestra • Ben Parry; Artistic Director, National Youth Choirs of Great BritainHelen Paskins  • Andrew Passmore • Rosy Payne • Adam Payn • Heidi Pegler; Association of Teachers of Singing • Mark Pemberton; Director, Association of British OrchestrasLis Peskett; Freelance musician and teacherNancy Philbin; Chair, Ladies Association of British Barbershop SingersNick Pitt; Secretary Fulham Symphony OrchestraJeremy Polmear; Artistic Director, Oboe ClassicsHarry Pope; President King’s College London’s Modern Music SocietyRobert Prizeman; Director, LiberaManvinder Rattan; CEO Sing for PleasureSophie Raven • Brent Read; Director of Music. Humberside Police Concert BandRosemary Read • Gwyn Rees; Band Manager Markham Main Colliery BandPeter Reynolds; Chair, London Gay Symphony OrchestraSteven Roberts; Chair, The British and International Federation of FestivalsSharon Robinson; Chair, Fulham Symphony Orchestra • Jenny Robinson; General Manager, City of London ChoirRuth Routledge; Music Director of Pram Chorus, Night Chorus, Little Village VoicesAnna Rowe; Arts consultantDerrick Rowlands; Executive Member Welsh Association Male Voice Choirs • Jonathan Sage • Emily Saunders; Chair, Forest PhilharmonicSamir Savant; Festival Director, London Handel FestivalJudith Sawyer; member of Hereford Musical Theatre Company • Tessa Sayers; Chair of Newcastle upon Tyne Bach Choir • Matthew Schellhorn; Pianist • Ben See; choir leader, singer, composerTom Service; Chair, Contemporary Music for AllPeter Seymour • Dr Áine Sheil; Head of Music, University of YorkJill Shepherd; Yorchestra (York’s Holiday Orchestra)Chris Shurety MBE; Director Contemporary Music for AllNatalie Simmonds; Wandsworth Music  • Lynfa Sioufi • Roland Smith; Musical Director, The Winkleigh Singers and Devonshire Company of SingersMark Sproson; freelance choral directorDr Martin Suckling; Composer, Senior Lecturer, University of York • Professor Catherine Tackley; Head of Music, University of Liverpool • Dr Christopher Tarrant • Valerie Taylor; Musical Director, Vocal Dimension ChorusNicholas Theobald; Committee Member, Covent Garden Chamber OrchestraPhillip Tolley; British Choirs on the Net • Erik Tomlin; Chair of London Gay Symphonic WindsJo Towler; Music in the Round  • Nigel Tully MBE; Executive Chair, NYJO (the National Youth Jazz Orchestra)Michael Turner; Music Director – Bloomsbury Chamber Orchestra, Music Director – Oswestry Sinfonia, Assistant Conductor – Phoenix Singers (Shrewsbury), Conductor – Shropshire Youth Orchestra, Conductor – Shropshire Training Youth OrchestraNeil Valentine; Creative Director, University of Winchester Music Centre • Mandie Vider; Music EducatorGemma Wareham; Cellist, Berkeley Ensemble and Director of the City of Sheffield Youth OrchestraTristan Watson; Performance and Workshops Coordinator, Leeds College of MusicJudith Webster; Chief Executive, Music for Youth • Caroline Welsh; Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra • Hilary Davan Wetton; Music Director, City of London Choir • Adrian Wheeler; Chair, Westminster Philharmonic OrchestraRob Williams • Dorothy Wilson-Longfils; Chair, Redditch OrchestraIan Wilson; Teacher of Music & Music Technology at Huntington School, York • Chris Woodhead; Chair and Secretary Slaithwaite Philharmonic OrchestraElizabeth Worth; Musical Director of Belvedere Concert Band, Poplar Singers, BCE and EASRCSimon Wright; Conductor Leeds Festival Chorus & York Guildhall OrchestraDaniel Wright; Musical Director of Framingham Earl Singers and Teacher of Music

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