Buskers silence city’s Evensong

Buskers silence city’s Evensong


norman lebrecht

September 22, 2014

An unpleasant story from the Roman – now tourist – city of Bath, where buskers perform morning to night in front of the ancient cathedral. Their amplified activities have disrupted Evensong for quite a while. The Cathedral asked them politely to tone it down. Then they asked the council to intervene. Neither approach worked. So Evensong is now cancelled in Bath until further notice.



(You wonder why they didn’t just shut the cathedral doors. Or blast an amplified service out onto the square.)


  • Tim Bullamore says:

    The first point is that the venue in question is an abbey, and emphatically not a cathedral (that can be found in Wells). Nor is it the present building that ancient – although worship on this site can be traced back to the pagans of pre-Roman times.

    But to the substance of the report: this is a terrible shame but a problem that has been building for a while. I have sat at funerals in Bath Abbey and heard the sound of buskers through the doors – which incidentally are closed during services and which the noise still permeates.

    Yes, busking in many forms adds to the gaiety of live in the city, although some of the faces and tunes become wearisome and predictable, but the street performers’ inability to self-regulate is well known.

    I’m not sure that the abbey throwing its toys out of the pram and declaring it to be council’s job to intervene (why?) will achieve much. Perhaps it’s time to invite the buskers to the service or to take the service to the streets?

  • sdReader says:

    Ban the amplification, and the rest will take care of itself! Easy.

    • JBBaldwin says:


      Ban the amplification!

      Down with electronically-enhanced noise pollution — in Bath, in the Tube, on the streets, everywhere.

    • composer says:

      Whilst I am not against all buskers per se (I sometimes even give money to them, if they are good and can hold my attention for at least 15 minutes), I do feel that amplification should be prohibited — it is a public thoroughfare, not a performance venue, so nobody should have the right to drown out everything else. If you rely on a backing track, then find repertoire that does not rely on a backing track — there is plenty of repertoire for unaccompanied solo instrument if you know where to look, from Bach to the present day! I suspect that many buskers avoid such rep because it is much harder to play well, but why should we have to suffer those who are both mediocre and loud?

  • CDH says:

    Feeble-sounding council!

  • V.Lind says:

    Feeble-sounding council!

  • Anne says:

    I don’t mind buskers, within reason, but I do resent being force-fed other people’s choice of music to the extent that I can’t ignore it. I find this situation particularly unreasonable since the buskers can move but the abbey can’t.

    I can see why the abbey might not want to fight fire with fire. On the other hand, if the buskers can amplify, why can’t the abbey? Time to stop being polite. It might at least force the council’s hand.

  • CounterTenor says:

    I think the phrase ‘until further notice’ may be overstating, and has perhaps been inferred from a second-hand report. Whilst having every sympathy with the Abbey’s clergy and musicians, surely the daily round of worship should continue, come what may? There are places which have to put up with noise of traffic, planes, trains, Christmas markets, etc etc, but the services do not stop.