Brindley Sherratt Weighs in on BBC Singers Getting the Axe

“I could weep,” wrote the renowned bass.

By Chris Ruel
Photo: Gerard Collett

In a heartfelt article published by The Guardian, renowned bass Brindley Sherratt expressed his disappointment over the BBC’s decision to dismantle the BBC Singers. Sherratt, who spent 13 years with the group, described his experience as nothing short of exceptional and praised the supreme level of musicianship he encountered while singing with the ensemble.

“The audition was rigorous and the competition was intimidating, so I was delighted to make the cut. I was cocky and could already sing and sight-read pretty well but nothing could have prepared me for the level of musicianship of my new colleagues or the speed at which they could rattle through the most fiendish composition at sight and go on to record, broadcast or perform it two days later,” wrote Sherratt.

Sherratt also drew attention to the comments made by Pierre Boulez, who referred to the Singers as the “jewel in its [BBC’s] crown.” He then questioned who would take on difficult new choral works, emphasizing that ad hoc choral groups, which are part of the BBC’s plan, would take weeks of rehearsals to learn new music that the Singers could tackle within days.

“This is why living composers have nearly always specifically written and asked for the BBC Singers to perform their newest choral works. We recorded and made the first performance of John Tavener’s Song for Athene, which we then sang at Princess Diana’s funeral. Boulez flew us all over the world to perform the most complex contemporary music because no one else could do it either as well or as quickly. This group is unique and lauded across the classical world. Does our Beeb really want to disband such an asset, such an accomplishment?” he wrote.

Sherratt closed his article by expressing his sadness at the current state of classical music in the UK, with funding cuts affecting English National Opera, Glyndebourne’s tour, Welsh National Opera, and other orchestras and ensembles. He painted a bleak picture of the future, saying, “the chances of any kind of career in this industry are now very limited and shrinking daily. I could weep.”