Correspondence between RNCM management concerning appointment of Malcolm Layfield

The Guardian has published correspondence between Martin Roscoe, Edward Gregson and various others concerned about the appointment of Malcolm Layfield as head of strings at the Royal Northern College of Music.

The Guardian story points to claims made during the recent trial of Chetham’s School of Music teacher Michael Brewer and his ex-wife Kay which were reported about here.

One of the witnesses – 48 year old violinist Frances Andrade – who provided evidence during that trial later committed suicide before the case concluded. Arndrade also features in the exchange of correspondence published by the Guardian last night.

A summary of the story’s developments is available on the Guardian website. The correspondence is available to download.


NB – The following curated links track the developing story arising from the trial of Michael and Kay Brewer and subsequent death of violinst Frances Andrade. Each amendment below includes the date and time of the update. 

Following the trial verdict on Friday 8 February the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (where Michael Brewer had been artistic director) published this statement:

The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain are aware that its former Artistic Director, Mike Brewer, has been found guilty of indecently assaulting a Chetham’s School of Music student between 1978 and 1982, when he was Head of Music at the school. He has been cleared of a charge of rape against the same victim. We believe that he has been remanded in custody for sentencing at a later date.

The NYCGB has, in the interests of our young members, been in close contact with the police and child protection officers since the allegations were first made. However, neither then nor during the trial have any questions been raised with the NYCGB by the police, or any other individual, which might have suggested that the issues raised at trial reflect Mike Brewer in his role as Artistic Director of NYCGB.

All the events which were the subject of the trial occurred before 1994 while Mike was teaching at Chetham’s School. The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, until the trial, were not aware of the reasons behind Mike Brewer’s resignation from Chetham’s School in 1994.

Mike Brewer had been planning for retirement before his suspension following the allegations, and we confirm that Mike Brewer no longer has any involvement with NYCGB.

While we hope that Mike Brewer’s musical legacies for young singers – including vocal excellence, outstanding performance opportunities, and exploring a vast repertoire – will remain core to NYCGB’s work, we now move forward with our 30th anniversary year.

Norman Lebrecht on Slipped Disc has published a post late on Saturday 9th February in which former Chetham’s pianist Ian Pace writes:

There is now a real need for a full independent inquiry into sexual and physical abuse in classical music education during this time [1970s & 80s], and the various schools and colleges involved should show good faith by cooperating with this.

Later on Saturday 9th, the Guardian was reporting on calls to overhaul court proceedings in light of Frances Andrade’s suicide.

On Sunday 10th, Norman Lebrecht featured a blog submission from Magganini Quartet cellist Michal Kaznoswki with claims about abuse in other music schools

The same day, the Guardian identified six more women who claimed they had been sexually assaulted by a different teacher at the same school. The teacher denies the allegations.

Also on Sunday 10th, Sky News reported that the husband of Francis Andrade said she had been ‘devastated’ at being accused of being a liar by the woman barrister defending Michael Brewer during the trial. 

On Monday 11th, BBC News reported that police are to investigate further claims of sexual abuse at Chetham’s School of Music after ten women had come forward and reported other incidents. 

In a measured and balanced post, Jessica Duchen published ‘An Appeal For Calm’ on her Classical Music Blog on Monday 11th February in which she revealed that Martin Roscoe (one of the correspondents who had objected to Malcolm Layfield’s appointment at the Royal Northern College of Music) had suffered panic attacks and other stress-related conditions as a result of the controversial appointment. 

On Tuesday 12th The Guardian reported that Malcolm Layfield has stepped down from his role on the RNCM board.

On Tuesday 19th Norman Lebrecht carried a statement from the RNCM announcing that Malcolm Layfield had quit the college although at the time of writing this update, no statement had appeared on the RNCM press centre website, nor had Layfield’s biography been updated to reflect his change of status. 

The Telegraph reported on a new code of conduct announced by music colleges in September of 2002.



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