Meet GARETH MALONE
He is THE Choirmaster and the force behind a series on BBC America called ’THE CHOIR’.
“It’s not about trying to find the next American Idol, it’s about watching regular people, children who don’t believe in themselves… and watching their stories as they encounter music for the first time.”
Apparently the series aired in the UK a year or two ago. As far as I know it has 3“cycles” as they call them.
The first is a series of episodes filmed at a lower income high school with a very limited music program. The goal was to put together a choir good enough to attend the WORLD CHOIR GAMES, commonly referred to as The Choir Olympics.
With an incredible amount of struggle Gareth got them to the games. They didn’t make it past the first round but they won so much more. The school has a much more comprehensive music program now with support from students and parents.
One of the students – the young woman pictured on the left in the photo below – transformed herself from a truant student who never spoke to anyone to a graduate who is now working with other students who need guidance.
The current cycle – ‘Boys Don’t Sing’ - just ended with The Lancaster School Choir performing at Royal Albert Hall. Gareth formed a 100 strong boy’s choir over the course of 9 months. He brought together a diverse group of boys and even got many of the staff to sing.
I really became very fond of many of the boys. There is Michael who is so earnest, so serious. On a trip to some castle he regretted not bringing his camera as – “there is so much history here, so many incredible things”.
One of the most resistant boys is the leader of the “beat box” group. They’re the tough boys, the rappers, the boys who proclaim the choir to be “too gay”. Gareth finally bridges the gap between their music and choir music. One of the most wonderful moments to me is when the leader of the beat boxers tells a friend - “I’ve learned not to judge too quickly. And I’ve learned that when someone is trying to help you, don’t act like an idiot. I can’t believe that was me. It’s not who I am anymore.”
You can view their performance at Royal Albert Hall, along with many other videos from the series HERE
The third cycle, beginning this week, is about forming a choir in a small blue collar town.
I do hope you check out some of the videos. Music is joy. It is healing.