I've enoyed watching the first two episodes of 'Last Choir Standing' which have felt altogether more gentle and more affirming than so much of what we see by way of talent competitions. Whilst we see the judges making some stern remarks, there is none of the outright aggression (even if it is allegedly pantomime) seen in other competitions.I loved seeing the interview in the first week with the Filey Fishermen's Choir (left, picture from BBC website) - a group of very senior men whose biggest desire is that the choir survives after they are no more. They took rejection with dignified sadness and went home to make more music. I love the Open Community Choir from Northern Ireland whose members are a mixture of people with and without physical disabilities who make a very 'honest' (in the words of the judges) sound and clearly love singing. I am rooting, probably rather hopelessly, for Dreemz, a group of young black singers whose community mentor encouraged them to enter the competition and worked hard to find them a Musical Director in order that they could progress to the second round. The joy these youngsters get from singing and being together is palpable and what a fantastic contrast to all the news of guns and knives.
There are some truly amazing choirs - notably a couple of the larger all-male choirs - some who are quirky and there are some that appeal to that British love of the underdog. But what really shines through is that these are groups of people who do more than just sing for an hour once a week - they are intentional-communities, united by their love of music and engaged, to some level, with each other's lives. It has been telling how many of the older singers told of joining choirs after life-partners had died and how many others speak of the life line in times of crisis (though of course we don't hear from the ones whose lives go relatively smoothly). I'm not completely niave though - I know that choirs, like churches, have their share of awkward so-and-sos and can be places of dischord rather than harmony, but it is refreshing to hear uplifting stories.
It will be interesting to see how the competition pans out. I hope that the seeming underdogs aren't being set up to fail alongside the giants, I hope the judges don't turn mean (though I doubt they will) and I hope above all that something of the inherent good of humanity can be celebrated.