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8 November 2019, 11:19 | Updated: 9 July 2020, 18:28
From his hit YouTube series Great British Home Chorus to his family and music, here’s everything you need to know about the UK’s favourite choirmaster, Gareth Malone.
Gareth Malone is a choral conductor and broadcaster, best known for his TV programme The Choir, and hit YouTube series, Great British Home Chorus, in which he introduces people to choral singing.
Gareth studied drama at the University of East Anglia and went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music. He first began working with young people and community group for the London Symphony Orchestra and in 2001 he was made the Edward Heath Assistant Animateur for the ensemble.
As well as The Choir, he has also presented television series including Gareth Malone Goes to Glyndebourne and was one of the judges on Pitch Battle in 2017.
Gareth was born into a family of Irish descent and grew up with his father, James, who worked as a bank manager, and his mother, Sian, who worked in the civil service.
Now, the 44-year-old choirmaster is married to an English teacher called Becky and they live together in north London with their daughter, Esther, who was born in 2010, and son, Gilbert, born in 2013. They are expecting their third child, but the due date is still to be announced.
Gareth first appeared on TV in 2007 with ‘The Choir’, a series in which he took teenagers with no experience of singing and put together a choir.
The series went on to win a BAFTA and was so successful, he went on to create ‘The Choir: Boys Don’t Sing’ and ‘The Choir: Military Wives’, in which he worked with wives and partners of military personnel deployed to Afghanistan.
The Military Wives Choir went on to perform at the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance and their recording of Paul Mealor’s song ‘Wherever You Are’ ended up becoming Christmas Number 1 in 2011.
Since then, Gareth has brought his love of choral singing to other TV shows – including The Choir: Sing while you work and The Choir: Gareth’s Best in Britain – and is now involved in a new series called The Choir: Singing For Britain, helping the nation combat their lockdown blues and writing songs with NHS heroes during the coronavirus pandemic.
After announcing the details of his new show, he received over 15,000 applications in just 48 hours, but has chosen to focus his efforts on three groups – keyworkers, frontline workers and people who have been shielding.
Describing the process, he told The Mirror: “The difficulty was of course that we couldn’t meet – it all had to be done virtually during lockdown. The team was virtual, too – the sound guy is in his garage, I’m in my garden studio and the executive producer is in her spare room. It’s been fascinating to work on.”
Alongside his new TV show, Gareth decided to launch a virtual choir series on YouTube earlier this year – Gareth Malone’s Great British Home Chorus – to encourage the nation to sing together during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Every week, he chooses a popular new song and posts singing lessons for people to enjoy online, which culminate in a mass singalong on Thursday evenings.
He told The Mirror: “When the world shut down in March, I lost all my work and it was a real worry, like for most people. What was I going to do?
“It didn’t take long for me to create a virtual choir, where I’m now singing with hundreds of thousands of people from their sofas around the world.
“I believe my Chorus sessions have been therapeutic for a lot of people – me included. I finish the sessions elated.”
During the series, Gareth also invited Classic FM presenters Alan Titchmarsh and Charlotte Hawkins on the show:
Earlier this year, Malone presented a new series called The Choir: our School by the Tower in which he worked with students from Kensington Aldridge Academy, the school that was next to Grenfell Tower. His aim in the show was to use music to help students deal with the trauma of the disaster.
On 14 June 2017 Grenfell Tower burned down, killing 72 people in the worst residential fire since the Second World War.
Gareth told the Daily Mail's Event Magazine that he saw a therapist every week while working with the school: “This is the first time I spoke to a psychotherapist weekly, so that I could get my own reaction to it out of the way and just be an open space for the kids to talk. I’m really glad I did that.
“As I spent more time [at the school], we laughed and they were silly. They were badly behaved. They were regular kids. Actually, I don’t think the series is about Grenfell, really. It’s about young people, their lives and aspirations and how you deal with bad things happening to you.”
Gareth’s latest album, Music For Healing, is inspired by his work with those who were impacted by the Grenfell Tower fire. Its aim is to express, through music, the “essential role that the natural rhythms of time play in the process of healing and restoration”.
The album, which he hopes will “bring peace and tranquillity into the homes of those who have endured hardships”, was born after the choirmaster went through a number of personal challenges in 2018. As his wife was expecting their third child, his grandfather passed away – but during this time, Malone says, music-making took on a therapeutic quality.
The choirmaster and pianist performed two tracks from the album – ‘January’ and ‘December’ – at October’s Classic FM Live.
Gareth Malone went on tour with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and a group of singers in 2018, but no new dates have been announced yet. Keep an eye on his website for any upcoming concerts.