Gareth Malone with the University of Exeter's a cappella group Semi-Toned

Semi-Toned to represent South West in Gareth Malone’s TV singing quest

The University of Exeter’s a cappella group Semi-Toned has won a tense sing-off against rival student band Sweet Nothings, and were chosen to represent the South West in Gareth Malone’s TV search for the nation’s most talented and entertaining amateur choir.

All-male group Semi-Toned vocally squared up to the all-female group Sweet Nothings, with both singing electrically charged versions of Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time for Gareth to judge as part of his series The Choir: Gareth’s Best in Britain. View their riff-off on the BBC’s YouTube channel.

Gareth gave feedback on both performances, and proclaimed Semi-Toned the winners. The band celebrated by throwing a party at the University, where they performed to fans following a masterclass from Gareth. They will next appear in the BBC 2 series on November 29 at 9pm.

Both groups have a strong following, not least within the University, which has a vibrant a cappella scene and eight student groups.

Semi-Toned President Sylvan Rackham said: “We are delighted to have been selected to represent the South West in this competition. It was a nerve-racking experience competing in the ‘Sing off' against the Sweet Nothings, their performance was great and I had no idea who Gareth was going to choose! The girls were really supportive after the result, it’s great to have them rooting for us as we go on into the Semi-Finals against the best groups from the other regions of the UK!”

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter, said: “Congratulations to Semi-Toned. Both bands are excellent, and testimony to the vibrant and growing a cappella scene here at Exeter. It’s great to see such talent showcased alongside our beautiful grounds and facilities.”

Having crowned the nation’s most entertaining amateur a cappella group in last year’s hugely successful The Naked Choir with Gareth Malone, this year Gareth is opening up his contest to groups from all musical traditions.

Gareth Malone said: “I’m thrilled to bring a fresh search for the musical rough diamonds among the British public to BBC Two. Having discovered the best a cappella groups the nation has to offer last year, this series goes one step further, pitting groups from all types of music head to head.”

Gareth has auditioned a diverse mix of groups and choirs in towns, cities and villages across the country, before selecting four to go head-to-head in the contest stages of the series, each representing a different part of the UK.

He will work with the four handpicked groups, offering his expert guidance, advice and encouragement, before they perform in front of a live audience and a jury of musical experts, who’ll vote on which choir they found most entertaining. In the semi-final, the choir with the fewest votes will be eliminated.

In the grand final, the three choirs left standing will compete to receive the most votes from the invited jury. Vocal prowess alone won’t secure the title – the competition will be fierce and groups must find the extra entertainment factor to secure victory. The choir who emerges triumphant in the grand final will receive the honorary title of Britain’s most entertaining amateur choir.

Gareth Malone has won two BAFTAs, an International Emmy Award and numerous other accolades for his previous series, and he was awarded an OBE for his services to music in 2012. He has quickly become a national treasure thanks to his ability to nurture otherwise hidden musical talent from a broad demographic of the British public. In 2011, the singers Gareth brought together in The Choir: Military Wives secured the UK’s Christmas number one, with the single Where You Are.  

Date: 16 November 2016

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