A superb celebration of choral singing comes to BBC ALBA this summer as Scottish choir, Alba debut at the Eurovision Choir 2019 competition in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Pitted against nine of Europe’s best amateur choirs, Alba will perform in a live spectacular, broadcast to a Europe-wide audience on Saturday 3 August. Each choir will try to impress a panel of international choral music stars by performing an unaccompanied selection of music in a variety of styles.
Musician and television presenter Joy Dunlop leads the forty-strong Alba choir, drawn from all over Scotland. The Mod medalist from Connel in Argyll, equally well-known as a tv and weather reporter, has sung all her life and took on the task of assembling a choir with typical enthusiasm.
Joy said, “As a lifelong fan of Eurovision, I’m absolutely thrilled to lead a choir for such a prestigious singing competition. I’ve always had the secret dream of performing on a Eurovision stage and this is a real honour. Bringing a Gaelic Choir to Gothenburg this year is a big step. This competition provides the opportunity to introduce viewers from across Europe to our Gaelic language and heritage. I can’t wait to represent Scotland in a competition of this magnitude in our native tongue. This is a priceless opportunity and one that myself and the choir are whole heartedly embracing.”
Ahead of the live broadcast in August, the journey that Joy and her choir make will be documented by BBC ALBA in a programme to be shown in the run up to the competition. The half hour film will chart the progress of the choir, through the trials of rehearsing, wardrobe decisions, anxiety over musical arrangements, choreography and nail-biting deadlines.
To prepare for the biggest event of her life, Joy takes advice from conductors, dancers and even Graham Norton, the voice of Eurovision. She travels to Wales to meet Ysgol Gerdd Ceredigion the choir representing Wales at Eurovision and chats to award-winning conductor, Islywn Evans
Singing in an arena in Gothenburg is the biggest challenge that her she and Alba will face. To get an idea of the scale of the competition, Joy travels Tel Aviv to soak up the atmosphere of the Eurovision Song Contest, an event that caught her imagination as a youngster in Connel and has obsessed her ever since.
Margaret Cameron, Channel Editor BBC ALBA, added “We’re proud a Gaelic choir will take to the stage for Eurovision Choir 2019 and that audiences Europe-wide will get a real flavour of Gaelic song at the highest level. We’re excited to see Alba take on choirs from all over Europe and to bring a new experience to the BBC ALBA audience with a great look inside the trials and tribulations, and joys, of mounting an entry to the competition from scratch”.
The documentary and live competition show this Gaelic choir setting foot on the biggest stage that any of them have seen. Blending spectacular staging and a live stadium ambience with eclectic musical performances from a wide range of traditions and cultures, Eurovision Choir 2019 will again take viewers on a colourful journey in search of Europe’s best amateur vocal group.
Eurovision Choir 2019 is produced by Bees Nees Media for BBC ALBA. The documentary programme will broadcast on Wednesday 31 July at 9.30pm with the choirs’ competition broadcast live on Saturday 3 August at 7.30pm.