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Church News

Winchester Cathedral music department drama sparks Bishop-led investigation

by Lydia Davies

The Bishop of Winchester has initiated an independent review of Winchester Cathedral's operations following allegations concerning the music department.

The inquiry follows several weeks of accusations regarding the behaviour of the cathedral's music department and the departure of Winchester Cathedral Chapter's senior non-executive member, Mark Byford, who previously served as the head of the BBC World Service and its deputy director-general.

"In light of that significant development in the cathedral’s governance, I have decided to commission an independent review... into the events that have led to this," Bishop Philip Mounstephen said in a public statement.

Toshi Ogita told the Church Times: "It is heartbreaking that members of the congregation at Winchester are increasingly staying away from the place they want to come to worship in, due to what they perceive as hypocrisy and gross mismanagement at the top.”

The investigation follows notable resignations and restructuring within the department, raising questions about management practices and culture.

Amidst these disruptions, Winchester Cathedral reaffirmed its commitment to choral music and announced investments aimed at bolstering its musical offerings.

A statement from the cathedral read: "Investment in music at the Cathedral will rise to as much as £850,000 this year... with the bulk of the budget increase invested in the main cathedral choir."

Dean Ogle outlined plans for broadening musical outreach and addressing concerns about management, saying: "The great Anglican choral tradition is fundamental to our worship... choral music is and will continue to be at the heart of all that we do. It is precious."

As Winchester navigates these developments, Andrew Lucas has been appointed as interim Director of Music. Dean Ogle praised his qualifications in an interview with the news outlet, saying: "We are fortunate that, at this stage in his career, Andrew has made himself available to us... We look forward to his steady and experienced hand guiding us."

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