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July 6, 2010

Giving Voice to the Young and the Reluctant

New York Times:

Gareth Malone

The ingredients add up to a certified hit: An earnest, young teacher intent on building the choir of his dreams. Ragtag high schoolers wrestling with adolescent angst. Feuding faculty members. Bullies who think singing is for losers. Success. Failure. And, oh, those showstopping tunes.

No, not that series.

Before “Glee” made Americans want to tap into their inner Broadway baby, there was “The Choir ,” a feel-good BBC reality series about the singer and conductor Gareth Malone and his quest to bring choral music to the unlikeliest of schools. A success in Britain since 2006, the show will make its debut in this country on BBC America on Wednesday night at 10.

“We beat ‘Glee’ to it by some years,” the boyish Mr. Malone, now 34, said during a break from filming his latest series, “Gareth Malone Goes to Glyndebourne,” in which he transforms teenagers into opera singers. “I’d like to think that somebody had watched our show and thought it was a good idea, but maybe I’m just flattering myself.”

“The Choir” steps off at Northolt High School, a school without a choral tradition in a working-class community northwest of London, where Mr. Malone tries to create a top-tier choir of 25 students from among 160 very reluctant auditioners. The mission: to prepare his ensemble for the World Choir Games in China in just nine months. The obstacle: in the first episode, his new choristers demonstrate that they can barely sing.

In a recent telephone interview with Kathryn Shattuck, Mr. Malone spoke about giving young people a voice. These are excerpts from the conversation. Read the interview.

Posted by acapnews at July 6, 2010 12:00 AM


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