Anger after Sheffield Cathedral decides to shut down beloved choir

The entire Sheffield Cathedral Choir is to be replaced by a new music team(Photo: Facebook/Sheffield Cathedral)

Sheffield Cathedral has been widely criticised on social media after announcing the closure of its choir over concerns that it is not diverse enough. 

Dean, the Very Rev Peter Bradley, said the conclusion had been reached that "there needs to be significant change" in the music offered at the cathedral. 

Following a review of the Music Department last year, the existing choir is to be disbanded and replaced with a new music team that will develop "a fresh vision of our worship", to be "ready for the exciting future of the mixed urban community in which we live and work". 

In addition to replacing the choir, the cathedral is in the process of appointing a new Canon Precentor to "bring increased creativity and stability". 

The Dean said the changes would offer the cathedral a "completely fresh start". 

"As a result, Chapter concluded this is the right time to close the current Cathedral Choir," he said in a statement.

"This decision has not been easy because it will directly impact several colleagues and indirectly impact us all in our close-knit community. However, we believe this is in the best interests of the long-term mission of the Cathedral." 

He continued: "For some time, Chapter has been considering a new model for Anglican choral life here, with a renewed ambition for engagement and inclusion.

"They recognise that this will require flexibility, imagination and experiment.

"Chapter is committed to retaining the distinctive choral life of an Anglican cathedral, drawing fully on our long heritage of music-making.

"They look forward to working with our partners throughout our City and Diocese to make this renewed vision a reality under God." 

The changes have been strongly criticised on social media. 

James Bingham, a former chorister at Sheffield Cathedral and now outreach manager at Irish National Opera, said he was "appalled" by the decision. 

"It implies that the Anglican Church's rich choral tradition is to blame for it's declining influence," he said. 

Conservative Home founder Tim Montgomery tweeted: "The Church of England always trying to be fashionable but never quite succeeding." 

Alexandra Wilson, Professor of Music and Cultural History at Oxford Brookes, said the cathedral's actions were a "disgrace".

"What vile times we live in: out with anything 'traditional'. In with meaningless managerial 'visions'," she wrote.

"You appear to have taken the current crisis as an 'opportunity' to get rid of a choir that has served you well for a long time, in some misguided attempt at 'relevance'. Using casual management-speak as you sack/replace your musicians is revolting.

"What does 'flexibility, imagination and experiment' mean? Hiring a rock band? If you are really 'committed to retaining the distinctive choral life of an Anglican cathedral, drawing fully on our long heritage of music-making' why not keep the current choir?"