We played ‘would you rather’ with Gareth Malone at Classic FM Live

9 October 2019, 09:54 | Updated: 9 December 2019, 13:22

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

We chatted to Britain’s favourite choirmaster, Gareth Malone, ahead of his appearance at Classic FM Live, and asked him the tough questions – like ‘would you rather lose your hair or your singing voice?’ (he went with the hair, btw).

Gareth Malone, who was once the youngest member of the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, was reunited with the BSO to conduct them at Classic FM Live last night.

We met him backstage ahead of the performance (watch full behind-the-scenes interview above), and asked him how it feels to hold the title of ‘Britain’s best-known choirmaster’, to which he replied: “I like how you’ve said ‘Britain’s best-known choirmaster’ – because outside classical circles, people can’t usually name more than one”. What a legend.

Leading the orchestra and chorus from the piano, Gareth performed two tracks from his new album Music for Healing – ‘January’ and ‘December’. He also conducted ‘Wherever You Are’, the song which made Malone and the Military Wives a household name.

“I’ve performed at the Royal Albert Hall very many times, but never actually playing the piano, so this is really special tonight.

“It’s just so grand, it’s really extraordinary. There’s such a sense of history here and you’re aware that so many people have enjoyed concerts here very many times.

“I remember coming here as a kid when I was eight years old to see a family children’s concert with my school. I remember them introducing us to the crumhorn, and I’ve never forgotten the sound of the crumhorn since that day. And I remember being completely overwhelmed and thinking this is the most amazing place I’ve ever been.”

Gareth Malone conducts the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at Classic FM Live 2019
Gareth Malone conducts the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at Classic FM Live 2019. Picture: PA / Matt Crossick

Next, we challenged Gareth to a game of ‘Would you rather’, like you do...

Playing or conducting? “I love to play, actually,” he says. “Conducting is great fun – I only do it as a means to an end. I don’t consider myself to be a real conductor. I’m an all-round musician.”

Eric Whitacre or John Rutter? “For me, as much as I admire the great John Rutter and I owe him my enthusiasm for choral music, Eric Whitacre is the new face of classical music for me.”

Lose your hair or lose your singing voice? “I would rather lose my hair, although I have plenty of it at the moment. Because the ability to just... ‘AHHH!’ is something I hold very dear.”

Be tone deaf or never able to read music again? “The idea of being genuinely tone deaf, where you can’t tell that a doorbell is two notes, terrifies me. So, I think anything other than that.”

Gareth performed at Classic FM Live alongside star pianists Isata Kanneh-Mason and Benjamin Grosvenor, Classic FM’s Composer in Residence Debbie Wiseman and Britain’s Got Talent winner Colin Thackery, who was a surprise guest.

And Gareth’s way of summing up Classic FM Live? *Shiny*.

“I think this is going to be very shiny tonight. I think it’ll be an amazing show full of incredible musicians. I’m honoured to be on the same stage as two wonderful pianists, a great choir, a great orchestra.”

Amen to that.

Listen to Classic FM Live in full at 8pm tonight on The Full Works Concert.