BBC sacks Chorus director

BBC sacks Chorus director


norman lebrecht

December 14, 2015

Word has been out for some time that Stephen Jackson’s position as director of the BBC Chorus was in jeopardy. Singers have now received confirmation by email from Alan Davey, head of Radio 3,  and BBC Symphony Orchestra general manager Paul Hughes that Jackson’s contract has not been renewed. No reason was given.

Jackson, who has led the choruys nsince 1989, is saying nothing. But we hear that the BBC decision has gone down badly with members of the Chorus who tell us they are disgusted and disillusioned at the loss of a brilliant and effective leader. The sacking has been handled badly by BBC standards. There are protests afooot.

stephen jackson bbc

photo (c)  Carol Hartfree, Bright Images Photography


  • Mark Sproson says:

    As an ex-member, I am in touch with numerous current singers in the chorus, and if there is any fear of “being exposed to cuts” I’m not aware of it. There is a single sentiment dwarfing any other concerns, and it is sheer outrage at the way their director and they themselves have been and continue to be treated.

    • CC_sharp says:

      The chorus costs very little to run out of performing groups budget. It’s a few years ago but I recall being told that it was around 100k

      • Malcolm james says:

        The singers are amateurs and therefore can walk out without their livelihoods being at risk. they are clearly all very fine singers and there are plenty of other top choirs who would be happy to have them.

  • Tony Britten says:

    Stephen Jackson’s skills are second to none and the affection in which he is held by the BBC Chorus is palpable.This ludicrous action has to have been made either out of gross incompetence or deep malice. Neither explanation is acceptable, particularly from a publicly funded organisation acting,at least to some degree on behalf of a large group of talented singers who do it for love.

    BBC music should, of course rescind this decision immediately and offer a full public apology to Stephen Jackson and the chorus. But if course, this is the BBC….

  • Dave says:

    What happened to the third comment here?

  • AP says:

    Another sad tale from the bowels of BBC Maida Vale in which, once again, the management have shot wide of the mark. Stephen Jackson’s excellent record with the chorus says everything that one needs to know, as does the management’s history of poor decision making. A bad day for choral music.

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    I’m very sad to hear this news. I’ve come across Stephen at various events organised by The Association of British Choral Directors. He’s a charming guy, talented musician and one of the finest choral directors anywhere. The BBC have been lucky to have him for so many years. But typical of the Beeb- they treat the good people badly and cherish their tatty, second rate presenters, lavishing them with 6 figure salaries, which they hilariously label as ‘talent’.

  • Stuart MacIntyre says:

    Whilst acknowledging that there are always two sides to every story, the reported manner of Stephen Jackson’s dismissal cannot but reflect very poorly indeed on those responsible for it at the BBC. Mr. Jackson has spent the majority of his long and successful career working for the BBC; he was a full-time member of the BBC Singers before being appointed as Chorus Director of the BBC Symphony Chorus. Quite apart from the fact that Mr. Jackson’s results from the Chorus have been widely and consistently acknowledged within the profession as having been world-class, his undisputed devotion to the Chorus and his immense loyalty to the BBC itself surely ought to have made him deserving of far better treatment than this. No-one is perfect but Stephen has clearly been treated very shoddily indeed. That ought to be a matter of the very greatest concern to everyone who cares about choral singing.

  • David says:

    Having a run with Jackson a few years ago I am entirely in agreements with the BBc. I found him to be a smug and not a pleasent character.

    • Dave says:

      If that were true – and anybody who knows Jackson will know that it isn’t – then he would be a perfect fit for the smug and unpleasant BBC management, and the sacking would be even more difficult to understand.

      There has still been no official statement from the BBC so I’m not sure what you’re agreeing with.