A nationwide choral singing boom is giving fresh meaning to the sound of music, with new choirs popping up at the fastest rate in decades.
Increasing numbers of people are starting their own vocal groups, inspired by the nation’s new choirmaster-in-chief Gareth Malone, and shows such as The X Factor, or because they want to boost their wellbeing, mental or physical.
In the past 12 months, around 150 new groups have joined Making Music, which supports voluntary music groups, continuing its annual increase in newcomers. The growth in interest has overwhelmed the musical theatre industry, with casting directors forced to axe so-called “cattle calls” – open castings for West End shows – because they were being swamped by reality television rejects.
Next Sunday is the culmination of the UK’s largest amateur singing competition at the Choir of the Year final in London. More than 5,000 singers from 138 groups entered the hunt to find the nation’s best singing ensemble. Six finalists, from a Huddersfield-based junior school choir to an undergraduates’ a capella jazz group, will compete for the accolade at the Royal Festival Hall, on London’s South Bank.
Robin Osterley, who heads Making Music, said people were more enthusiastic about singing than they had been for decades. He attributed the boom to “television shows, which have brought choirs to the forefront of people’s attention,” adding: “We all have an instinct to sing. The Zeitgeist is giving people impetus to go and sing with like-minded people.”