Made Here: Coisir Shoisgeulach, BBC ALBA

BEGINS a media release: “Scotland’s first ever Gaelic Gospel choir was formed to take on the challenge of entering the BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year competition.

“A new BBC ALBA programme follows the choir’s formation, starting with the selection process narrowing down the 128 applicants from all over Scotland, to the first rehearsal in Inverness. The choir must record two songs as their entry into the BBC competition, with only one month to complete all their training and rehearsals.”

Coisir Shoisgeulach, produced by Demus Productions for BBC ALBA, will be broadcast on the channel on Monday October 31 at 2030 hours (and then available to view on BBC iPlayer).

Here, Nick Low, MD, Demus Productions, answers the questions…

Who commissioned the series?

Margaret Cameron was the commissioning editor for BBC ALBA

Explain the thinking behind the production’s ‘look and feel’

As this documentary was following the creation of a brand new Gaelic choir, we wanted the viewer to get a sense of the journey as one of the members would.

Most of the interviews were done as we went along to get an ‘in the moment’ feel and reaction from the participants.

Our main contributor was the choir’s musical director, Mary Ann Kennedy, so we did do a couple of catch-up interviews and at the end a few sit-down interviews to plug a couple of gaps and give a ‘journey so far’ overview.

Who are the key personnel? How were they recruited?

Our team consisted of director, Daibhidh Màrtainn, who we had worked with before.

Daibhidh has an in-built sense of storytelling and always finds the real nuggets that takes the story and instils it to the most powerful aspects.

The main cameraperson was Demus staffer, Struan Adam, who has worked with Daibhidh before and they have proven a great team.

Other camera folk on the project were Paul Bridges, also staff at Demus, and Douglas Campbell.

What kit and software?

The programme was filmed with a Sony-EX3 and edited offline and online on AVID at Edit123 in Glasgow.

What were the main production challenges?

The main production challenge was following a story over what turned out to be an 18-month period, with contributors from all over Scotland who only occasionally came together for the choir – mainly in the Inverness area.

We wanted to get a sense of the effort the choir members had gone to just to be part of this unique experience for a Gaelic choir. It soon became apparent that this was actually the first ever ‘national’ Gaelic choir and could develop into something bigger than the original ‘Gospel’ prospect.

The other challenge was filling a 60-minute slot with a choir with open-ended outcomes.

For instance, would they get through to the final of the BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year, which would give us a 15-20 minute piece of content?

Or, could the choir achieve the funding to take them to America to sing with American Gospel choirs and share their Gospel backgrounds?

What did you most learn and enjoy from the experience?

In terms of learning, this programme showed us that, when a group of people are engaged in a new project, that the overall momentum of the group is phenomenal and in terms of filming that makes our job much easier.

The whole experience was very rewarding and as a start of a new exciting Gaelic musical project it was a privilege to witness this choir from the very first note and everyone involved in the project will watch (and listen) with great interest as Soisgeul moves forward.