Thursday, January 15, 2015

Not About a Book - It Takes a Choir

I was planning to start the new year by talking about Funny Girl, the latest Nick Hornby novel.

But I'm going to wait.  Because recently I watched an extraordinary show on television and I bet you've never heard of it.

It Takes a Choir.  Ring a bell?  (Ha, that's funny.  Choir.  Ring a bell.)  Gareth Malone is an English choirmaster who did an excellent reality series in England a few years ago called The Choir, where he taught mostly non-singing students to participate in a choir where they eventually competed in the World Choir Games. How will they do?  Can they learn a song in a foreign language?  Perform in front of a live audience?

My husband and I read that there would be a U.S. version called It Takes a Choir.  We set our DVR.  And forgot about it.  Just before New Year's Eve we noticed that eight episodes of It Takes a Choir had been recorded.  Funny - we'd never seen any promotions or reviews of the show.  When I looked on Google,  I found out the series had been made in 2012 for the USA Network, but its release was continually delayed.  Finally all eight episodes were aired (aka "burned off") on a single day in December.  Luckily our DVR remembered.

We've watched three of the episodes - the first about military wives (and a few husbands) with spouses stationed overseas.  They're not singers.  Can Gareth bring them together and make them sound like a choir?  I admit I'm a big baby - somebody who cries at Folger's coffee commercials.  So it was no surprise when I sobbed my way through the episode.  The same with the other two we've seen.  Gareth Malone is so in love with singing and works hard to bring people together and teach them - he wants them to love music as much as he does.  There's an innocence to this show and not in a mawkish sort of way.  How often do you see something on television and feel genuinely moved?

It Takes a Choir is available on Amazon.  Give it a try.  "Bringin' Back Berwick" is a good episode.  And see if you don't cry when they sing "Let the River Run."  I dare you.