Anger as Musicians’ Church falls silent
Composer John Rutter leads the protests as St Sepulchre’s imposes rehearsal and concert ban
The London church in which the ashes of BBC Proms founder
Sir Henry Wood are buried is to shut its doors as a concert and a rehearsal venue, a move that has caused fury and sadness among music-lovers. Popularly known as ‘The National Musicians’ Church’, St Sepulchre-without-newgate in Holborn has long been an important hub of musical activity in the area and, as well as being Sir Henry’s last resting place, also has windows commemorating composer John Ireland and soprano
Dame Nellie Melba. However, the current vicar, David Ingall, has taken the decision that, from now on, the only music to be heard within its walls must be of a religious nature, saying in a letter to would-be hirers of the church that he had become ‘conscious of the challenges of using a space dedicated to worship for non-religious hiring’.
Leading the chorus of dismay is composer John Rutter, who has accused Mr Ingall of ‘betraying the community’. ‘He didn’t have to take the job at a musicians’ church if he didn’t like musicians,’ Rutter told the Daily
Telegraph. ‘Churches are, and should be,
busy places where all can walk through the door and all are welcome.’
In return, a spokesman has insisted that St Sepulche’s ‘remains committed to our ministry as the National Musicians’ Church’. The church’s website, meanwhile, states that ‘our vision is for St Sepulchre’s to be a place where music and musicians are valued and appreciated, a space for musicians to use, and a place where they can encounter God.’
Not everyone within St Sepulchre’s would appear to be in agreement with the vicar’s standpoint. A petition to oppose the ban has been set up by one of the church’s own choristers, Richard Robbins. At the time of going to press, it had over 5,000 signatures.
‘Churches should be places where all can walk through the door and all are welcome’
no play today:
St Sepulchre’s will no longer hold concerts; (below right) John Rutter