Cathedral singers call for re-think on singing restrictions

(Photo: Unsplash/David Beale)

Cathedral singers have added their voices to growing criticism of the Government's restrictions on singing.

While many areas of life have re-opened, only six people can sing together indoors under remaining restrictions, affecting amateur choirs up and down the country. 

The Very Rev Adrian Dorber, Chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, said the measures were "draconian" and "punitive" considering that sports stadiums and pubs have all been allowed to re-open. 

The Government has restricted communal singing indoors because of concerns that it creates a greater risk of transmission.

Its website says that "singing, shouting and physical activity increases the risk of transmission through small droplets and aerosols".

But Rev Dorber argued that public singing could be conducted safely. 

"Music is a vital part of church worship, it brings a richness to the liturgy, our services can become flat and monotone without congregational singing," he said. 

"We appreciate public health concerns but now that sport stadiums can have fans, pubs and bars are open again and more and more of us are vaccinated, it seems punitive of the authorities to stamp down on singing especially on amateur choirs and church congregations.

"There is very little definite, published and properly peer-reviewed evidence to support these draconian measures.

"However where there is evidence, it is that singing brings enormous pleasure and satisfaction to thousands of people and is a major contributor to personal wellbeing.

"We urge the Government to have a re-think right now," he added.

The Association of English Cathedrals is encouraging all cathedral singers to take part in the Big Music Sunday Service at 6pm on 6 June as an opportunity to stand together, albeit from the comfort of their homes. 

The association is being joined in its call to the Government by the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM), the Association of British Choral Directors and the Incorporated Society of Musicians. 

RSCM Director, Hugh Morris said: "RSCM Music Sunday is a celebration of the special place of music in worship.

"With choirs so severely restricted again at present, the Big Music Sunday Service is a powerful way for singers to come together in solidarity in song, even if that has to be online.

"Last year, 2,000 people joined us live; and we want more to do so this time in these trying circumstances."

Resources for the Big Music Sunday Service are available here. It will be streamed on YouTube here.