Chairman Paul Smith marks 100 years of CSA


If  you didn’t catch Chairman Paul Smith on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, you can do so here:

Having celebrated the health benefits of singing in his first chairman’s address at the 2017 CSA Conference in Durham, Paul Smith, headmaster of Hereford Cathedral School, was more hard-hitting this year. He said the risks to schools that educate the UK’s cathedral and collegiate choristers are as great today as they were a century ago, for a variety of reasons. These include the government’s attitude to independent schools; Paul believes that politicians of all shades issue ill-informed edicts, which purportedly seek to ensure the independent sector does its bit to justify charitable status, but in reality are an attempt to bully independent schools into making amends for the ill effects of successive government-imposed initiatives on the state sector.

He also highlighted the detrimental effect of initiatives such as the EBacc combined with financial cuts on music and arts provision for state school pupils, and expressed his concern that in the light of rising school fees and declining congregational numbers, cathedrals, chapels and churches may not be able to continue to support choristers financially in the future.

However Paul’s speech also celebrated the unique nature of choir schools and was a rallying cry to colleagues to step up as their predecessors did a century ago in defence of music education in general and choristership in particular:

‘The Choir Schools’ Association has a job to do: we have to support those struggling to keep music alive in the hearts and minds of young people.  We are expertly placed to do so, with hundreds of years of choral tradition behind us.  If we do not rise to this challenge then we will all suffer as a result.’

Click here for the full text of Paul Smith’s Key Note Address 2018