South East Wales

Llandaff Cathedral adult choir members made redundant

Llandaff Cathedral choristers
Image caption A group called Save Llandaff Choir wants the adult choristers' jobs saved

Seven professional members of a Cardiff cathedral choir have lost their jobs.

The Church in Wales will save £45,000 as it looks to claw back an expected deficit of £81,000 at Llandaff Cathedral.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) had urged fundraising.

But the cathedral chapter argued that the job losses were the "best and most responsible way" to secure the choir's long term future.

It said it had a "strategy" to address a "significant financial deficit".

But cathedral chorister James Davies told BBC Wales: "The choir for the time being will just consist of the boys.

"The men won't be there unfortunately. Our date of termination is tomorrow."

The cathedral employs professional choristers - or lay clerks as they are known - alongside 16 boy choristers.

The choir will now consist of boy choristers during the week with a budget to pay adult choristers on an occasional basis for weekend services and special occasions.

Five part-time lay clerks, a part-time choral scholar and the assistant organist will lose their permanent contracts.

'Short-sighted decision'

The Cathedral Chapter said it had considered all proposals put forward over the past six weeks.

"The new funding arrangement for the choir is the best and most responsible way to secure both its long term future, and the future of the cathedral community as a whole," said a spokesperson.

"We fear that the alternative of relying on constant fundraising for one area of our responsibilities would overshadow or diminish support for other pressing needs, such as the fabric of the building, and even then could not guarantee a sustainable long term solution."

The spokesperson added that the choir would strengthen relationships with other musical organisations and develop the complementary roles of the girls' and parish choirs.

But ISM chief executive Deborah Annetts said: "Making people redundant the week before Christmas and at the choir's busiest time of year is a shocking decision that will do lasting damage both to the musical life and the reputation of Llandaff Cathedral.

"We believe that the Cathedral Chapter should reverse this short-sighted decision."

She said the decision meant the cathedral choir would be without altos, tenors or basses for its Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.

The choir, which was set up more than 130 years ago, featured in BBC series Song of Praise in early November, and is said to be one of the last in Wales to employ professional singers.

ISM helped set up a campaign group called Save Llandaff Choir in which it says: "The importance of choral music to the cultural, economic and spiritual life of the cathedral and wider city is immense and any decision to downgrade the choir in this way would be short-sighted and highly damaging."

Friends of Cathedral Music said the job losses were a "stark warning" the costs of maintaining cathedral choirs can threaten the future of the hundreds of years of heritage.

"The heritage represented by cathedral music is priceless but it comes at a very high price and that is why, if it is to be safeguarded and sustained for generations to come, imaginative leadership and clear long-term sustainable plans for its development are needed at acutely difficult times like this," said professor Peter Toyne.

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