Dean of Sheffield Cathedral says he sacked choristers because he “wants the best choir in the UK”

27 July 2020, 17:46

Sheffield Cathedral
Sheffield Cathedral. Picture: Getty

By Kyle Macdonald

The Very Reverend Peter Bradley makes a Sunday statement following controversy and anger at the disbandment of the Cathedral’s choir.

In a statement made last week, Sheffield Cathedral announced it will disband its choir. Cathedral Dean and Chapter said that “significant change” was required in its music department, requiring a “completely fresh start”.

The decision impacted close to 20 boy and girl choristers, as well as several lay clerks.

Chorister parents reacted with fury at the news, claiming the young singers and parents were not consulted or considered in the decision-making, or thanked for their musical contributions over the years.

Over 3,000 people have now signed a petition to save the choir.

It also attracted the attention of the wider music community, with Cambridge conductor Andrew Nethsingha calling the decision “irresponsible” and “short-sighted” and accusing the Cathedral of “incompetent people management”.

There have also been allegations of bullying of the cathedral’s music staff and volunteers.

Posted by Sheffield Cathedral on Wednesday, 18 November 2015

On Sunday, in place of his usual Sunday morning sermon, Dean of Sheffield Cathedral, The Very Reverend Peter Bradley, released a statement about the decision.

In the statement, the Dean expressed his ambitions for more choir members, larger congregations and greater “flexibility, experimentation, and imagination” in services.

“We want to raise our ambition for excellence in singing, so that once again we will be one of the best, if not the best, Cathedral choir in the UK,” he said.

He refuted the idea that the changes meant a move away from the traditions of English choral music. Anglican cathedral choral tradition will remain fundamental to Cathedral worship in Sheffield Cathedral, he said.

Since Sunday, there have been a number of comments on the Dean’s statement. While some welcomed its thoughtfulness, others questioned why all the Cathedral’s young singers had to lose their musical opportunities in the process.

In his address, the Dean also addressed the allegations of bullying at his Cathedral, saying “I cannot, for legal reasons, comment on these, except to reassure you that any complaints which have been raised are taken very seriously by Chapter, and will be dealt with through our robust official procedures.”