Tuesday, 15 November 2011

singing their hearts out

I’m so enjoying the current series of The Choir. I had somehow only managed to catch an isolated episode or two of Gareth Malone’s previous efforts to bring the joy of singing to unlikely places.

On the face of it there’s nothing at all unlikely about a group of military wives forming a choir – it’s just that no-one’s thought of it before. Judging by the enthusiasm of the recruits he has signed up at Chivenor and in Plymouth it’s something they’ve been waiting for. Watching a programme about the military would not be on my regular wish-list, but whatever my views on Afghanistan or Iraq, there is no doubt that the women and their families left at home while their partners are deployed in dangerous places have a very difficult life indeed.

Gareth Malone is very talented at what he does. He creates enthusiasm, boosts flagging confidence, challenges people to do things they thought they couldn’t do. His choice of repertoire is very clever, starting with pop songs that people already know and gradually introducing more classical work so that the singers can experience a range of music and develop their musicality.

One or two of the women involved are veterans of the waiting game and are very strong characters who have learned how to live that kind of life and still be individuals in their own right. Others, one feels, are crushed by the sense of only existing as the satellite to someone else’s dangerous career. So it is inspiring to see these women coming together as encouragement for one another, overcoming nerves and natural anxiety about performance to (literally) find their own voice.

It’s cracking good television and my only gripe is that we don’t see quite enough of the rehearsals and the singing.


  1. Did you catch Gareth on Midweek (radio 4) this morning?

  2. No. Missed it. May have to Listen Again!