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The full story behind the wonderful women of song - and much more
on 5 December 2011
I was absolutely glued to the TV series The Choir - Military Wives, as an ex military wife and music fan.
Choirmaster Gareth Malone moved down to a military base in Devon to live amongst a community where a large proportion of the men were about to be sent to Afghanistan, with the idea of setting up a choir for those left behind.
As with all his ventures, Gareth really wasn't sure if the choir would take off at first, but approached his task with zeal and enthusiasm.
In contrast to some of the other choirs Gareth has put together, from the very start it was clear that the wives were really behind the venture.
The experience of having something to take them away from the worries surrounding them whilst their husbands were away was warmly welcomed. Gareth was clever in introducing them to choral singing via Bob Dylan's lovely 'Make You Feel My Love' which was familiar to them ... and then he really stretched them. More complex pieces followed including a version of I Wanna Dance With Somebody with incredibly difficult harmonies and performances in the local community. Gareth had the massive challenge of running two choirs that were to come together to sing as one, one based at Chivenor and the other at Plymouth. What a task...
It certainly wasn't all plain sailing but with vast practice things started to come together - and sound REALLY good.
One of the fascinating 'sub-plots' was the question of who would be the soloist for the projected piece to be sung at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. Before the last episode, the Festival was televised and I was delighted to hear the gorgeous voice of Samantha Stevenson ring out with the opening chords of 'Wherever You Are'. Though it was a close call, Sam was the right woman for the job, as an experienced chorister with a fantastic talent.
Even though I 'knew the ending' the last episode was wonderful - with all the Chivenor husbands safely returned and a behind the scenes look at the Albert Hall performance.
To see how Sam gathered her courage to audition and perform, then master the very challenging solo was incredibly moving. I hope that circumstances grant her the chance to develop her undoubted gifts.
If you missed the story when first shown this DVD will be a great chance to catch up, to further your admiration of these incredible women and to get an insight into what it is to be a 'wife of'. Well done to the producers for getting as much of the full story as they could.
Equally importantly, this will further your admiration of Gareth Malone and his wonderful gift of inspiring the best in others, through the medium of music.
In times like these we need all the heart-warming real-life stories we can get, and this is one of the best.
The DVD release date is a little way off so in the meantime I've pre-ordered the CD of the Choir's lovely Wherever You Are -I hope you have too - and that should keep me going.