Simon Cowell Gave This Choir “A Million Percent Yes”

Here's an inside look of the joys and hardships of one choir working to appear on live television.

It all started when our choir “Salvacosta” was scouted to appear on Britain’s Got Talent. The scouts found us online and TV reps were sent to my home with video cameras and filmed an interview with me.

Several months later we received a phone call and were asked to attend the second stage of auditions which was at a large exhibition centre, The London Excel but  in a small room in front of 3 or 4 producers/vocal coaches etc.

After many hours of waiting (even though we had been given a timed slot), we were asked a few simple questions about ourselves and then asked to perform a 3-5 minute piece. This was filmed so the producers could look back and see how we looked on camera.  We sang a selection from THE LION KING.

More months passed and I received a phone call to say we were short-listed to appear in front of the celebrity judges: Simon Cowell, David Walliams, Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden. We were given an approximate time-frame of 2 to 3 months hence.

As the time approached, still nothing concrete came , just phone calls and emails saying “it is very likely you will appear but nothing is 100% certain. Then – 7 days before the performance we received confirmation that we would appear in front of the judges!

The day finally came and we travelled hundreds of miles and arranged hotel accommodation at our own expense. We were told to arrive at noon ready dressed in our stage gear and prepared to perform. We were not allowed to leave the building once signed in. There was much frustration on the day spurred by lack of food and drink and hours waiting and being pushed from pillar to post, photo shoots and video interviews too. We finally were called on stage to perform at a quarter past midnight!!!!!!!!!

Despite the 12 hour wait, we were told we had been selected as the final act as they hoped for something special.

Choirs awaiting their chance to perform in front of celebrity judges.
Salvacosta member getting mic’d for performance.

The performance was electric, a capacity audience of over 2,000 people and the 4 celebrity judges. It was like an out of body experience, once it was all over it was as if we were watching from above and questioned:

Did we really do that? Did that really happen?

The responses were amazing, standing ovation from the auditorium including the celebrity judges. Lovely comments from the judges and “a million percent yes” from Simon. Following this there was more filming, believe it or not, then we began the long drive home, arriving in the daylight hours.

In the months that followed there were many trips to London for signing of contracts, filming days and a variety of meetings. Future repertoire was discussed and many musical arrangements were submitted for perusal. The next stage was Judgement Day or “The Reveal Show” where each act goes on stage usually paired with another act to be told if they’d made it to the live semi-finals ( TV lives).

Director Darren Bartlett discussing performance specifics with production staff.

The day was demanding, again being moved from room to room and many hours waiting. We finally were taken to the London Palladium and began our torturous wait. After much silence from the judges , and poker faces, Simon finally says ” it’s not good news I’m afraid” – then left us on stage for a good five minutes in silence, then he said “it’s great news, you are through to the “lives!” We were obviously ecstatic and couldn’t quite believe it, there was much celebrating afterwards! 

During the weeks and months that followed we attended many meetings in London and more signing of extensive semi-finalist contracts and were introduced to top London agents.  We were given the date of the live semi-finals and rehearsed like crazy for it.

Then despair struck.

I received a phone call from the executive producer to say that they had decided they already had 2 other choirs and because they had already been seen on TV they were dropping us! Imagine our devastation after we had given 9 months of our lives devoted to the show?

We didn’t take the news well and were completely floored. Some members took it really badly. We fought the decision, but to no avail. For several months we soldiered on but in the end I decided that we needed a fresh start and we reformed under the new name ‘Muzaria’. It was like starting again after 17 years, but things are slowly beginning to happen. Find out more about Muzaria here.

What have we learnt from this? Don’t take anything too seriously, don’t believe anything TV companies promise, take everything with a pinch of salt and just enjoy the experience for what it is. 

Would we recommend TV competitions like this to other choirs? Only if you can take severe criticism and have a tough skin!

Would we do it again? Probably!

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