gareth malone and rhiannon chard
Rhiannon with top choirmaster, Gareth Malone Credit: Rhiannon Chard

A Cwmbran woman starred in a BBC programme with top choirmaster Gareth Malone.

Rhiannon Chard from Coed Eva was picked to be part of Easter Passion, a three-part show that ran over the Easter weekend.

Eight untrained singers, with little or no experience of singing in a classical choir, were selected by the broadcaster for six weeks of rehearsals. It culminated in them performing the challenging Bach’s St John Passion on the 300th anniversary of its first performance.

The 24-year-old told Cwmbran Life: “There was an advert on Facebook. I just had to send a video of me singing my favorite song [Beyond my Wildest Dreams from Little Mermaid] and ‘Happy Birthday’.

“I used to sing a bit when I was younger, in musical theatre. Then I took two years off singing. This was the first thing I did in a while.

“I had a Zoom call after that. Then I went in person and met Gareth. There were about 20 who went to audition that day. That’s when he said what we were singing.

“Nobody had ever heard of it. We had to sight-read it. Then he chose eight of us.

“It was kind of like X-Factor. We went straight into six weeks of rehearsals at the Millennium Centre.

“We had never sung those songs before. It was about getting to love that type of singing. It sounds like it would be boring, but that was his [Gareth Malone] whole thing, to show how it was for everyone.”

Cwmbran's Rebecca Chard (far left) with Gareth Malone (centre) and the seven other choristers
Cwmbran’s Rhiannon Chard (far left) with Gareth Malone (centre) and the seven other choristers Credit: BBC

Rhiannon said her family and friends were “screaming” and “jumping up and down” when she told them she had been selected.

The big performance took place in Cardiff’s Hoddinott Hall with the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales.

Rhiannon said: “That was just so cool. it made us feel like professionals singing with the orchestra. It was just ‘wow’!”

She has now been offered an audition with the BBC National Chorus of Wales.

The three-part show is on the BBC iPlayer. Click here to watch Gareth Malone’s Easter Passion.

Before the show went out Gareth Malone said: “Ever since I sang and fell in love with this work as a student, it has been a piece I have returned to again and again.

“Now I have the dream opportunity to bring this favourite piece of music to a wider audience through the ears and voices of eight wonderful people who barely knew of Bach let alone this great masterpiece just two months before we performed it. What a fitting and spectacular way to celebrate its 300th anniversary.”