MRA and I watch those Gareth Malone programmes on BBC where he works with various groups of people to create or improve choirs. I’m not so taken with recent series where they’ve become knock-out competitions, but they can be interesting and certainly enriching for the participants.
The current series is regional. He selected from tapes then went around the country auditioning and picking best choirs. In Portsmouth we saw the Shanty Men performing on HMS Victory (where else?). I know those guys, I’ve performed with them and I like what they do. I’m always fond of anyone who keeps musical traditions alive – in my life for whatever reason it’s been rather more a matter of Mississippi than the Solent
Malone didn’t select them for the semi finals but he said of them:
“I am looking for people that represent the region and I feel like those guys absolutely represent this region. They’re from Portsmouth, they’ve got the right sound they are shanty men, they’ve been singing these shanties for 40 years”.
I’ve always thought that’s a really weird idea in the modern world. I’ve lived my whole life in Pompey, sung & played music throughout and have absolutely no feeling for sea shanties as being about my life. Do you?
Incidentally he chose the songs for the four choirs that went into the semi-final and they were:
Exeter; The Diana version of ‘Candle in the Wind’
Durham: Something by the Spice Girls
Leicester: Something by Bjork
Reading: Something by the Korgis
So maybe he wasn’t serious about anyone really ‘representing’ a region, any more than most Pompey footballers are from Buckland.