Faithless fools: Church bans Charlie Hebdo concert

Faithless fools: Church bans Charlie Hebdo concert


norman lebrecht

January 08, 2015

The ecclesiastical authorities of the Church of St Martins in the Fields, after refusing to take calls all day, have told the organisers of tonight’s Charlie Hebdo Adagio that ‘it is too much of a security risk’ to have the performance on its premises.

Flannelled cowards and heartless fools. For once, the Church has a chance to do something meaningful with people who otherwise have no interest in its product and they run a white flag and surrender to Al Qaeda terror. For shame.

Never mind. The Charlie Hebdo Adagio will go ahead on the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square.

Vanessa is keeping a meeting place for musicians at the Church until 9.45 to avoid confusion.

Vanessa says: ‘We will not be silenced!’

st martin in the fields


  • Ray Richardson says:

    Pathetic. It would be excusable were they at least holding a silent vigil of reconcilliation in its place.

  • Alan T says:

    Pretty sure it was just the rehearsal which was going to be in St Martins, with the performance elsewhere, so not sure they could ever have ‘banned’ things. Anyway…they’re still having dozens of musos turning up on their doorstep later on. Maybe they could make some tea for us…..going to be a chilly one.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Come on…. They can’t bear it that musicians are initiating a vigil they should have done in the first place.

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    O Sainter than thou, where is YOUR own sign ” Je suis Charlie”?

  • CDH says:

    VERY disappointing. Wonder what Sir Nev would have said if consulted.

    • R says:

      Nor entirely sure what Sir Neville has to do with anything – he founded a chamber orchestra which was based at and rehearsed at the church in the early 1950’s and had given concerts there very rarely since?

  • Adam Spiers says:

    Tonight I heard this article is factually incorrect and unfair to the church. I gather more details are to follow tomorrow.

  • Laura says:

    Hello everyone, I am one of the organisers of Wednesday’s vigil and tonight’s musician gathering. Apologies for the misunderstanding. The church has actually been nice but due to the huge number of people responding on Facebook (over 2500), it would have been a security risk of spreading on the streets. It was decided to move to the North Terrace. This is absolutely my fault for miscommunicating (is excuse my French appropriate here?) and I apologise. I thank you all for being so amazing in organising this and getting people with such a great heart (and skills) together. Unity, remembrance and peace is really what it’s all about. Thank you also Mr Lebrecht and Vanessa for helping get so many talented musicians together. It was a magical event that I personally will never forget and I really hope that in the next few days, every community will come together and unite in peace. Warm regards to all! Beautiful! for some videos…

    • St Martin's says:

      Thank you Laura for confirming that unfortunately St Martin’s didn’t know about this event until late afternoon, but we did remain on site to direct any musicians to Trafalgar Square to join up with the group of 150 that performed last night. Well done Laura and all involved for organising this wonderful event.

    • Bob M says:

      Wait a minute here. You’re saying Norman Lebrecht got it wrong, managed to insult a large and vast portion of the church-going public, and did it all as a ye old bait-and-switch scam so he could get clicks on his blog?

      If it was anyone else, I’d be utterly surprised.

      • CDH says:

        I withdraw my comment above. I ought to have remembered that everything published on this site ought to be checked and rechecked for accuracy. Too many of the links I read to follow up are not consistent with the “tease” on the blog. Sometimes it is a misread — whether due to working a little too fast, or out of some sort of attitude, I cold not speculate, though I suspect both have come into play. The majority are okay, of course, but the “misreads” are more frequent than they ought to be.

        Congratulations to all for this splendid endeavour — those who participated as performers or audiences, and all who supported them from near or far.

  • Marc-Antoine Hamet says:

    Thank you, London musicians and citizens!

    Here in Paris, following the terrorist attack on the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo, live on French radio from Trafalgar Square, British philosopher Anthony Grayling put it well:
    “We are using pens and words. You are replying with guns. This is not civilization”.

  • Alexander Hall says:

    Not for the first time I note with sadness and anger that freedom of speech is less well protected and upheld in the UK than in many other European countries. More editors than I care to name refused to publish cartoons carried by Charlie Hebdo, citing concerns about security of their staff and an unwillingness to antagonise community relations (Rotherham, are you listening?). On the BBC’s Question Time last night David Dimbleby quoted from a BBC guideline, recommending that the prophet should never be shown. If the French can stand up for their right to offend anybody and anything, and their mass vigils have demonstrated how much they care collectively about that right, and the Danes can refuse to be intimidated about their right to publish anti-Islamic cartoons, why must the country of Magna Carta show in so many ways that it is prissy and lame-hearted about defending such rights here?

  • Nigel Curtis says:

    ==If the French can stand up for their right to offend anybody and anything,

    It’s a tragic situation but I think the cartoonists were ill-advised rattling the bars of the cage for so long. The BBC guidelines are surely right

    • Kathleen McCarthy says:

      Agreed. Having the right to do something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. That’s where you come in with thoughtfulness, a sense of decency, acknowledgement of consequences, and concern for the well-being of others. There is nothing wrong with censoring oneself.

      • Alexander Hall says:

        Remember what Voltaire said. The moment you start self-censoring yourself and stopping others from saying out loud what they think and believe you enter the slippery path that leads to dictatorship. The examples from history are legion.

        • Kathleen McCarthy says:

          There is a big difference between “self-censoring yourself” and “stopping OTHERS from saying out loud what they think and believe” and should not be conflated (by you or Voltaire).

          • Alexander Hall says:

            Well, Voltaire’s no longer around to take strictures from you, if you hadn’t already noticed.

  • Sara says:

    I don’t think St Martin’s do vigils without selling tickets anyway.

    • Alexander says:

      What’s that supposed to mean? Of course they sell tickets for their concerts, but they don’t charge admission for services, and I am sure that if they had had sufficient space for the vigil they wouldn’t have charged for admission to that either.

  • Alexander says:

    I am wondering just how much you know about the “Flannelled cowards and heartless fools” at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Through The Connection and the Vicar’s Relief Fund St Martin-in-the-Fields does more than most other churches I can think of to fulfil Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 25:35-36 (feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, offer hospitality to strangers, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit prisoners). Of all the organisations against which you could have launched this unwarranted attack, it really is a shame that it had to be St Martin’s, a place which actually does show courage and compassion.

  • Roy says:

    “For once the Church has a chance to do something meaningful…” Excuse me?