National Musicians Church drops bookings for secular music groups
We were saddened to hear that the London church that contains the ashes of Proms founder Sir Henry Wood - St Sepulchre-without-Newgate - is threatening to stop booking non-religious music groups.
In a letter to orchestras and choirs who regularly perform there, the priest in charge, the Reverend David Ingall spoke of “the challenges of using a space dedicated to worship for non-religious hiring” and added that there would be no further bookings from the end of the year.
The move has shocked the classical world who have known this place of worship as the National Musicians Church since the 1940s.
The news has provoked a petition of protest already signed by nearly 2,000 people while a letter has been sent by dozens of eminent musicians including cellists Andrew lloyd Webber and Steven Isserliss and composers like Howard Goodall, John Rutter and Judith Weir, the first woman appointed as Master of the Queen’s Music.
There are fears that the church will turn its back on cutting-edge quality classical performance in favour of ‘happy clappy’ evangelical rock style worship.
A statement from the church said: "An increasingly busy programme of worship and church activities has led to ever higher demands on the church space, and the hire space is also shared with the church administration office."
It added that it had been "greatly moved" by the reaction to the decision and said it would “reflect and pray, and consult with members of the musicians’ community” about how best to move forward.
John Rutter is in no doubt. Lift the stupid ban. He told the Telegraph Rev Ingall was "betraying the community that he purports to serve. He didn't have to take the job at the musicians church if he doesn't like musicians. The Church of England needs all the friends it can get. It shouldn't be making enemies - it's un-Christian.”