Sheffield drops a shedload on its choir

Sheffield drops a shedload on its choir


norman lebrecht

August 02, 2020

The Dean of Sheffield Cathedral, the Very Reverend Peter Bradley, had this to say on the BBC today about why he sacked the choir.

1 ‘It’s a pause, not an ending.’

2 The choir ‘on occasion sang beautifully, but there was nobody there’.

3 There are ‘other places’ in Sheffield where young people can sing as ‘part of the Anglican tradition of church music’.

4 ‘We tried with great goodwill to look at other ways of recruiting.’

5 Covid’s ‘a good opportunity to rethink, begin again.’



  • Glen Wilson says:

    Nobody there? I thought a cathedral was the house of God?

    • Maria says:

      In the concert hall too, everywhere! But it’s no fun getting up to sing a service in normal times, having practised for hours, when no one is there. Very dispiriting and becomes empty ritual. But sacking the choir – or pausing, or whatever English you want to use – is no answer. Something far more fundamental than the choice of music. Perhaps ask the people why they don’t go, or maybe they have?
      I heard that interview with the Dean live yesterday on Radio 4’s Sunday religious programme that starts at 7am.

      • Andrew says:

        It is only “empty ritual” if the cathedral choir doesn’t believe it is worshipping God. Clearly, the Dean values things only in secular terms. How modern day CofE.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Items 1, 2, 4 and 5 are fine (well, 2 is sad but probably a valid description of the state of affairs). Item 3 makes no sense at all. Where better to sing in the tradition of Anglican church music than in an Anglican cathedral?

    A statement about the desirability of *broadening* the Anglican tradition would be fine, but item 3??

    • A Sheffield Local says:

      Point 2 is not OK at all I’ve heard that choir perform to a full cathedral (Cutler’s Hall when the building was being refurbished) beautifully on many an occasion, and on TV too for that matter, for many years up until the end of 2019. If the cathedral is not always full whose fault is that? It’s not the choir’s for heavens sake and are they say a new choir will change that? I think the Dean could look to his own sermons to improve matters. The Cathedral have handled the recruitment of a Master of the Music very badly imho since loosing wonderful Neil Taylor; which cannot have been a stabilising influence for the choristers and lay clerks. The whole situation is very sad especially for members of that choir who have given years & decades of their lives to it, to be thrown out like this … now that is shameful and unbecoming of a christian institution.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    This interview was a total disgrace and this man showed neither shame nor, in this context, any christian humility. The comment about ‘a good opportunity to rethink’ should mark the end rather than a beginning for the reverend Dean and all those associated with the decision.

    • Observer says:

      Quite agree. Cynically using Covid as an opportunity to throw out tradition in favour of something else is disgraceful.
      How have people such as this man risen to such positions of power within the Church of England? What a moral vacuum of leadership our Church faces.
      The COE MUST learn that pandering to public demand and its ever changing nature is not what will win people back. To survive, the Church must be a rock – constant, never changing, confident in its message, not a pebble that swims about in the stream.

  • Former Organist says:

    Why is this man in this job? Those of us who heard his Radio 4 comments heard how he deliberately avoided the widely known management bullying that has been going on here between the age old feud of clergy v musicians.
    How many Organists/Directors of music has this cathedral had in recent times….?
    And what about the loyal choir and choir parents? Don’t they have any say in the matter having given freely of their time and talents over many years?
    Disgraceful behaviour from the Cathedral and Dean Bradley who ought to be challenged and shamed

  • David says:

    I enjoy the Beethoven bits of this blog immensely, but the tone around here, on the part of both the blogger and the commenters, is becoming ever more nasty. A public call to shame someone from “Former Organist?” And from the blogger himself in another of this morning’s posts: “Student Mob?” Really?!?!?! Come on, people! Let’s dial this back at least one notch, before Slipped Disk turns into yet another locus of social-media spleen and destructiveness.

    • christopher storey says:

      Calm down, David. At least one of the functions of a facility such as this is to challenge the actions of those in the musical world who think they , and their actions , are above scrutiny, such as the Dean of Sheffield Cathedral . If you were one of those who gave their time to the Cathedral , particularly children who by definition can’t look after themselves, you would welcome this opportunity

    • Peter says:

      It has been that for a long time.