Slovenia won the inaugural Eurovision Choir of the Year competition on Saturday night.
Don’t worry, you’re forgiven for not knowing about it. Broadcast on S4C for UK viewers and available to stream via YouTube, the kind of audiences who could have lapped it up will have missed it.
That’s a shame because it was a cracking broadcast, harking back to a bygone age – a time when TV producers didn’t fear losing viewers during a programme and so didn’t have to resort to tired TV tropes the likes of which us viewers are forced to endure today.
There was an elegance to proceedings. A grand venue, a sense of occasion, and a panel of experts making their decisions. Latvian TV (LTV) probably could have done without host Eric Whitacre who, despite his long mane and handsome good looks, came across earnest and clunky.
What really worked was seeing the enthusiasm on so many different faces. That translated into palpable energy both from the choirs and their conductors. With so many individuals on stage, there was variety and spontaneity of the kind that is really seen in the rest of the Eurovision ‘Family’ (the EBU need to come up with a better term to describe their stable of live event programming).
In this way Eurovision Choir of the Year displayed an authenticity and seriousness that was rather appealing. There was no whizz-bang set. No fast cuts. Not overly portentous music. Even their social media feed was gratifyingly understated. It takes a daring and thoughtful director to recognise where the real joy in a live event is – and in the case of this competition we were left to marvel an the talents of amateur singers.
On the basis of this first event,
Eurovision Choir stands taller in qualitative terms alongside its older and lower-rent sibling Young Musician. The once highly-regarded international platform for young musicians, now looks a little shabby in comparison.
I really hope there are more Eurovision Choirs and, more importantly, that the presentation remains similarly understated.
Before then, the EBU needs to focus in on their target audience. If they’re going for the entertainment market, they’ll struggle to maintain the higher-brow content of the performing groups; if they’re going for high(ish)-brow then its probably best they avoid reaching out to the ‘traditional’ Eurovision fans network. Some of the core Eurovision fans failed to register what the competition was about and were pretty disingenuous as a result (more the fool them).
As for the winners? I misjudged things entirely. On the night I dismissed Slovenia’s choral group as a little earnest. Now I come to watch Slovenia’s group again, I realise just how good their set was.
Watch the entire show via the Eurovision Choir of the Year YouTube channel