I graduated as BMus with Honours from the University of Birmingham in the summer of 1969. That autumn I was thrilled to be commissioned to review for the Birmingham Post a concert promoted by what was then one of the city’s most august musical organisations. It was not long after that that the Post’s music critic, Kenneth Dommett, invited me to become his assistant; musical activity in the city and region was burgeoning, and he could no longer handle it all on his own, particularly since the newspaper had the entree to review events throughout the country, such as at Covent Garden, the Coliseum, Glyndebourne, Aldeburgh, and of course closer festivals, such as the Cheltenham and the Three Choirs.

The Birmingham Post had a huge reputation for its arts coverage, not only within these borders, but much further afield, as I was to find when I was appointed Chief Music Critic in 1988. By that time the team of reviewing assistants had increased to six, with often three reviews being submitted every night. Such was the reputation of the Post that I was invited to events all over Europe, and in fact beyond, to Russia on three occasions, and even as far as Japan, where I was called to assess the performing standard of their symphony orchestras.

But back at base the circulation of the printed paper was dropping, as online news became the coming thing. Eventually a once proud daily broadsheet, with a huge readership served by an imposing fleet of delivery vans distributing over a huge catchment area (I have even bought the paper in Newtown and Presteigne in Wales and in Buxton in Derbyshire, containing my overnight reviews) became the apologetic, heroic, over-priced weekly it has now shrunk to.

Many years ago the Birmingham Post stopped paying for any arts copy, relying I guess, upon its reviewers’ avidity for free tickets to keep the arts pages going.  That was never the motivation for me and my team. I felt the musical life of the city and the region was so important that it deserved acknowledging and recording.

However, I have come to the regretful conclusion that it is no longer worth the unpaid and unrecognised hassle of our work representing the newspaper. The turning-point came when someone in the marketing department at Symphony Hall asked me if I could send them copies of past reviews. Why do they no longer read the Birmingham Post? Why should I be expected, unpaid, to maintain an archive?  I do have other, international outlets publishing my work, and those will continue, as will my website www.midlandsmusicreviews.co.uk.

So I am relinquishing the once august title of Chief Music Critic of the Birmingham Post, with all its responsibilities, and I fear no-one in today’s newsroom will remember and regret me, after 36 years of service in that honourable position, and 55 years as a reviewer. It has been a huge honour to have been connected with such a highly-regarded newspaper, as, I believe, its longest-serving reviewer in any of the arts disciplines.

Best wishes,

Christopher Morley


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