Gareth Malone, the choirmaster who has become familiar to millions of viewers as the indefatigable choral recruiter, teacher and conductor of The Choir on TV, is to receive the Freedom of the City of London.
Over three series of the BBC Two programme, Malone has won a legion of admirers through his efforts to persuade reluctant schoolchildren – and, later adults – in socially deprived areas to take up singing and enjoy the thrills of being in a choir, often with spectacular results.
From 2001 to 2009, he also worked for the London Symphony Orchestra where he ran the LSO St Luke’s Community and Youth Choirs, which draw people from all over Hackney and Islington.
The decision to award Malone the honour was made by Nick Anstee, Lord Mayor of London, who has also chosen the LSO’s On Track project – which provides musical opportunities for hard-up children – as one of his chosen charities to support during his year in office. ‘Gareth’s efforts to enthuse shy or very reluctant young people to take up singing in their schools’ choirs are a joy to watch,’ he says.
The award of the Freedom of the City of London dates back to the 13th century and used to carry privileges such as the right to drive sheep over London Bridge.
Gareth Malone will receive his Freedom at a ceremony at the Mansion House on 10 May.