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November 12, 2007

BBC announces "Choir Wars"

The Times (UK):

Expect to know your a cappellas from your cantabiles when BBC One tries to do for harmony singing what Strictly Come Dancing did for sequins.

The broadcaster has hit on the normally sedate world of choir singing in its search for the next Saturday night ratings hit, running a talent contest for choirs on the same lines as The X Factor and Any Dream Will Do.

Contestants of Choir Wars will be able to choose any style, from gospel and barbershop to classical, folk and rock, and will be marked on their “personality, passion, power and performance” by a panel of experts. They can also expect to hear harsh words when out of tune, with producers looking for a Simon Cowell of the choir world to deliver withering judgements.

A choir will be evicted each week until viewers choose the nation’s favourite. There are more than 25,000 registered choirs in Britain and the BBC is promising “the biggest talent search ever seen on British television”. And for those who think choir singing lacks drama, harmony does not always reign. A video of Chantage, last year’s Radio 3 Choir of the Year winners, provoked a furious reaction after it was placed on YouTube.

“The diction during the tenor portion was terrible, the sopranos were extremely off pitch near the end, and vowel shapes were non-existent,” complained Tenor207.

Traditional choral ensembles may need a stylist, with producers looking for electrifying groups and lively personalities to entertain viewers.

Choir Wars will run in parallel with the radio Choir of the Year contest. The television winner will be invited to compete in the Radio 3 final, although Saturday night viewers may demonstrate markedly different tastes.

The Radio 3 rules state that choirs can have any number of members from eight to a hundred but the television producers are considering allowing choirs of unlimited size.

Fame beckons for the winners, who could win a deal to record a possible chart-topping single for Christmas next year.

Chantage, who formed in London in 1999, are much in demand, appearing on several television shows and prestigious carol concerts since their win. Another prestigious choir, the Exmoor Singers, performed with the Indie rock band Bloc Party at the BBC Electric Proms last month. Elaine Bedell, BBC controller of entertainment commissioning, said: “This will be the biggest singing talent show, with the greatest number of contestants, ever mounted on television. BBC Entertainment has a proven track record on Saturday nights as the home of pure family entertainment but the scale and ambition of Choir Wars is a whole new, exciting ball game.”

Posted by acapnews at November 12, 2007 10:19 PM


How does one get your choir to the attention of the BBC - or is it already too late to enter?

Posted by: Mike at December 6, 2007 12:54 PM

Hi there,

How to I apply for BBC Choir wars. I have a gospel choir that wants to take part.


Posted by: Dottie at February 28, 2008 5:21 AM

Hi Dottie. You can apply for Choir Wars by visiting the website: www.bbc.co.uk/choirwars and downloading an application form.

Posted by: Lucy at March 7, 2008 3:00 AM

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