Semi-Toned with Gareth Malone

Semi-Toned crowned champions of national TV sing-off

Exeter’s all-male student a cappella group, Semi-toned, has won the BBC’s national TV singing competition The Choir, Gareth’s Best in Britain.

The University of Exeter students were celebrating last night, when they hit the right note for host Gareth Malone and a panel of expert judges with their renditions of Richard Blackwood’s Anthem of Praise and Señorita by Justin Timberlake.

Semi-toned member Ted Bartram who sang the solo said the experience was “humbling and uplifting”.

He said: “The lessons we learned whilst competing have genuinely improved us, both musically as a group and individually as performers. We hope to continue the good work that Gareth has instilled in us for many years to come.

“We are a University group, so old faces are always leaving when they graduate, with new members replacing them. We intend to carry forward the fundamental lessons we have learned: to create beautiful, fun and truthful music for everyone to enjoy.”

Semi-Toned President Sylvan Rackham said the group was “thrilled”, and said: “We would like to express our enormous gratitude for the wonderful support we have received in person and on social media, both from old friends and new enthusiasts. When we hear that our music has had a positive impact, it makes all the hard work worthwhile. Thank you.”

Semi-Toned singer Michal Luya, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and moved the audience with his heartfelt solo on Candle in the Wind in the semi-final, said: “I could not believe we won the competition! We were all very nervous while waiting for the results to be announced since all of the finalists did so well, however when we found out we won we couldn’t contain our joy! We had put in so much time and effort throughout the competition and it was a huge relief to see that our hard work paid off. It made things even better that we got to celebrate with all our family and friends. We could not thank them enough for their constant support.”

Gareth Malone said: “It has been an amazing experience getting to know the groups.  Although the other two finalists came on leaps and bounds during the contest, they were pipped at the post with a fantastically spirited performance.''

Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter, said: “We could not be prouder of Semi-Toned at Exeter. Alongside demanding degrees, they have all shown outstanding dedication and teamwork to make the group so successful. It’s really heart-warming to see the friendship and support within the group. We wish Semi-toned every success and I’m sure their victory is being celebrated across Exeter’s thriving a cappella scene.”

The final saw Semi-toned compete against other finalists Bulmershe Ensemble (Reading) and EAGA (Leicester). An earlier episode featured University of Exeter all-female a cappella group Sweet Nothings, who left the competition in an earlier round after a dramatic sing-off with Semi-Toned which can be viewed on the BBC’s YouTube channel.

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 talent.  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: 6 December 2016

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