Anger as Mu­si­cians’ Church falls silent

Com­poser John Rut­ter leads the protests as St Sepul­chre’s im­poses re­hearsal and con­cert ban

BBC Music Magazine - - THE FULL SCORE -

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

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