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A reality show we can believe in

John Womeldorff tipped me off about the US premier of The Choir.
 
It looks like a program we would love and it starts tonight:
It could be said singing is everywhere, but where are the choirs? Classically trained Malone embarks on a groundbreaking journey to save the choir and prove it’s cool to sing together. Malone dives deep into the community’s culture discovering where classical music stopped and what will ignite these people to be inspired to unite and sing. 

“Bringing people together for a common purpose and singing some of the most beautiful music that’s ever been written - I think everyone should have access to that,” says Gareth Malone.  His three projects on this mission will challenge him to create choirs capable of performing at the world’s biggest singing competition - the World Choir Games in China, Britain’s acclaimed Royal Albert Hall and at a choral festival staged by Malone with hopes of attracting thousands of spectators to the struggling town of South Oxhey.
 
 
UPDATE:  BBC America at 10pm
 
on July 7, 2010 10:16am
Thanks to Tim Sharp and his FB post, here's probably the best option for that:  http://www.bbcamerica.com/video/the-choir.jsp  While there are only promo clips there now, perhaps there will be full episodes, as American stations now do on a regular basis.
on July 7, 2010 10:48am
WHAT CHANNEL OR NETWORK?!!!!!!!!   There is no such network as "BBC America"!  And if it's on public TV, the date and time will be set by each individual station.  Anybody have a clue?  There's no indication whatever on the promo site.
 
John
on July 7, 2010 7:23pm
BBC America is available via satellite.  We get it through DirecTV. 
on July 8, 2010 5:29am
If you didn't catch it last night, you didn't miss anything.  The Star of the show is a smug, pompous young singer just out of the Royal Academy who shows no signs of having spent any prior time in front of a choir and is obviously being set up here as Simon Cowell lite with a bit of a social conscience.  And the hapless kids are also "set up" as pawns in a reality show for which they get television exposure and a trip to China but little else.  The only advice given to the students on the first episode is to sing LOUDER, the implied assumption being that because of their background they're not capable of actually learning how to sing, or match pitch, or learn some basic theory, or sing musically for that matter.  No time for that with a CD to make after only four weeks to send in to the choir "Olympics."  I can't imagine that anyone who really cares about music or kids in GB isn't embarrassed by this spectacle.
 
What's sad is that there are any number of programs in the US (and probably in GB as well) that accomplish SO much more for kids at the same level of socio-economic challenge.  Just in the Philly area alone, a production team should check out the truly incredible work John Alston has done with the young people in his Chester Children's Choir http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/92942989.html or Steve Fischer and Joe Fitzmartin have done with their Keystone State Boys Choir http://www.paboychoir.org/ and the West Philadelphia Children's Choir (now the Singing City Children's Choir) http://www.singingcity.org/aboutus/childrenschoir.html.  A documentary on one of THESE programs would be something everyone could be truly proud of.  I'm sure we should be grateful for small favors, but I'm afraid this series will likely do more harm than good (including for the children involved).
on July 8, 2010 6:36am
Disappointing to hear, Thomas!
 
I didn't watch it but I've got it set to record tonight, if the DVR schedule is correct.
 
Perhaps it will get better?
on July 8, 2010 7:49am
Unfortunately, I agree with Thomas about "The Choir".  At times I found myself channel surfing, not out of boredom, but as a result of cringing because of the low expectations, poor advice, and non existent rehearsal technique.  As a person who grew up in an urban environment, I can only imagine that if I had this young man as a choir director at any point in my childhood or adolescence, I would not be singing and conducting choirs today. 
 
I am disappointed because I had higher hopes for this show.
on July 10, 2010 12:33am
Maybe they cut out the pedagogical aspects of the rehearsals - it's possible but doubtful.  The repertoire choices are also somewhat suspect, but they could have also cut out some of the other pieces from the airing as well.  The two things I found most disturbing was the fact that the kids that wanted to sing had to audition.  Perhaps (hopefully) the others were given a chance to continue to sing as well - perhaps not in the "select choir."  The other was the recording session when he asked one boy not to sing on one of the takes.  These were tough to swallow, especially considering his initial comments about "everyone being able to sing."  
on July 11, 2010 9:50am
Disappointingly, I'm not sure this one deserves us to be behind it...