“Concerning and disappointing” Welsh musicians react to BBC classical music cuts in England

A trade union says it’s concerned after the corporation announced it was cutting funding for orchestras and the BBC Singers choir in England.

The Welsh branch of the Musicians’ Union says orchestras and choirs are an important part of the BBC – and that Welsh musicians already working for the BBC in England will also be at risk.

The Musicians’ Union also described the decision to disband the BBC Singers as “unthinkable” and is calling on them to reconsider. The BBC Singers were just one year away from their 100th anniversary – a petition to ‘save’ it has gained nearly 80,000 signatures.     

The BBC is the largest employer of musicians in the UK and has announced it’s cutting £5m across its orchestras and choirs in England in order to save money. ,

According to the BBC’s annual report, it spends £25m on performing groups across the UK including £5m here in Wales.

Andy Warnock is the regional organiser of the Welsh branch of the Musicians’ Union. He says the BBC’s decision is “extremely disappointing and concerning.”

He added; “These performer groups are what makes the BBC distinctive, they’re a really important part of the BBC’s remit and its output as a public broadcaster.

“They’re what make it distinctive from commercial broadcasters, for instance.”

Welsh musicians are also concerned that any proposed cuts in Wales will have an impact on the cultural identity of the nation.

Paul Carey Jones is an opera singer based in Cardiff. He says the Welsh classical music scene is distinct and in need of protection.

“I think [the National Orchestra of Wales] are a fantastic bunch of players who do work that is identifiably Welsh.

“I worked with them last week for St David’s Day and we did a concert that had specifically Welsh music. I’m not saying that’s not something any other orchestra could have done, but it wouldn’t have meant the same thing to us culturally as a nation.”

In a statement BBC Wales told CJS News that the National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales won’t be impacted. A spokesperson said; “The current plan doesn’t affect the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Our Nations orchestras are an incredibly important part of the BBCs classical portfolio and we will always deliver against their national, educational, and broadcast priorities.”