Choral stress and Council excuses

Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey. Click on images to enlarge.

I cannot name my source but l have received an impassioned series of emails from someone closely connected with Bath Abbey Choir.

This person is reacting to comments made by Jack Morgan – the busker who – it’s said – disrupted a Sunday afternoon service at Bath Abbey – causing the Rector to cancel the Evensong Worship.

The buskers say the time of the service had been altered and they had not been told.

My source said ‘ Evensong has always been at 3.30…. I am in the (Abbey) choir and l am at the point where l am thinking of giving it all up due to the frustration and stress this is causing.’

This person showed me an email sent to B&NES a couple of weeks ago and it tells of another ‘disruption of Choral Evensong’ by a busker using ‘very loud amplification outside the Abbey.

Ironically, this was on the same day that the Rector of Bath Abbey spoke of the ability of the Abbey to continue carrying out its work as being “under threat” from the increasing nuisance of amplified buskers.’

The Virtual Museum cannot name the person alleged to have caused the disruption but the email continued :

‘While the majority of buskers in Bath continue to respect the voluntary “traffic light” system and avoid amplified busking outside the Abbey during choir rehearsals, concerts and services, ———- very deliberately continues to flaunt it, and indeed take advantage of it, knowing this prime “pitch” will be free at these times.

He does this knowing that he is making the work of professional and semi-professional musicians (who unlike ——- are taxed on their earnings) inside the Abbey all but impossible.

He does this fully aware that he is preventing hundreds of people from carrying out their worship, or simply enjoying moment of reflection while availing of the high quality, free music provided at the Abbey.

Bath Abbey Churchyard
Bath Abbey Churchyard

He does this knowing that he is damaging the educational opportunities for the many Bath school children who are offered free musical tuition through their involvement in the Abbey’s choirs.

Later in the email it states:  ‘Members of the Abbey’s music department, including myself, as well as the congregation have written to you many times in the interim, but all I have heard from the Council is excuse after excuse. It is simply not good enough.

York Council was successful in banning amplified busking in sensitive parts of the city. While I don’t particularly want to ban buskers from the vicinity of the Abbey outside of sensitive times,——- continued abuse of a voluntary agreement and B&NES’ continued inability/unwillingness to do anything about it, would suggest that sadly there is no alternative.

This is a great shame for the majority of buskers who are respectful and go out of their way to avoid causing unnecessary disruption, while adding to the city centre street-scene.’