The Times calls out BBC music cowards

The Times calls out BBC music cowards


norman lebrecht

March 16, 2023

A letter to the Times by Jean Clark draws attention to the silence of BBC music executives in the face of the abolition of the BBC Singers and one-fifth of orchestral jobs. Ms Clark writes:

… I found it strange that the departing head of music at Radio 3, Alan Davey, his successor Sam Jackson and the Proms director David Pickard – three names pivotal to the output of classical music at the BBC- should remain silent on the issue….

She is two-thirds right. Jackson does not take office until next month and cannot be implicated in this calamity.

The other two, however, needed to be named. Alan Davey, who is in titular charge of classical music at the BBC until the end of this month, has devoted all of his minimal energies to staying out of sight while his ensembles are being demolished. Over the past eight years, Davey has been adept at hiding from responsibility. He has done so, it appears, to the last.

Pickard, likewise, has seen his Proms resources decimated by the latest measures. He has taken instruction from above and hidden beneath the nearest pile of paperwork.

For shame.


  • R. Brite says:

    Interesting and apt, but Richard Morrison writing a week ago that “it was left to a comparatively middle-ranking BBC apparatchik, Simon Webb, to take the flak in interviews this week, with neither Alan Davey, the departing head of Radio 3, nor Sam Jackson, his successor, nor David Pickard, the director of the BBC Proms, anywhere to be seen — even though their respective fiefdoms are most affected by the cuts” is the Times calling them out. A letter to the editor is not.

  • Shylock Holmes says:

    Alan Davey as a former Civil Servant with no arts background always recalls for me W.S. Gilbert’s lines from The Mikado – “The lady from the provinces who dresses like a guy and who doesn’t think she dances but would rather like to try”. How he got to head ACE and then a high up appointment in the BBC music hierarchy is a complete mystery.

    • Barry says:

      It’s how so many of these gravy train appointments work. A clique of people who rise without trace, consider each other indispensable, and only fail upwards.

  • William Evans says:

    BBC pensions and the carrot of future appointments speak volumes nowaday!

  • Orchestra CEO says:

    I’ve mentioned this in another thread but when there are so many brilliant musicians and managers working hard to make the sector what it is it makes me genuinely angry that Alan Davey received an honour from the ABO board a few weeks ago. He was mediocre at ACE and his legacy at the BBC is catastrophic.

    We keep talking about the need for our sector to change. One thing which definitely needs to change is that we should stop lauding third rate bumbling middle aged white blokes just because they happen to have held a certain position for a while.

    • Robin Blick says:

      What has ‘being white’, ‘middle aged’ and having a penis got to do with it? This description also happens to fit most of the world’s greatest composers.

    • Adrienne says:

      I’m black, beyond middle aged and definitely do not have a penis. I’ve never been described as “bumbling” so can I have the job please?

      “First rate” is the only criterion that should matter, nothing else. Keep your racism out of it.

  • soavemusica says:

    Under a pile of gold coins, there is, and never will be, any shame.

    This is any corporate policy.

    Expect the bonuses go up, for cuts well done.