When members of World Choir Council (WCC),the highest body of choir groups from across the world,get together in July,there will be one member from India. Neil Nongkynrih,41,founder-member of Shillong Chamber Choir (SCC),is gearing up for his stint as a member of this prestigious council. What makes WCC very important is that it isnt only about singing. The organisation works closely with UNESCO to bring countries together through music,and this is a big challenge, he says.
SCC hit the headlines when it was invited to perform for Barack Obama during the US Presidents visit to Delhi in 2010. Nongkynrih,who founded the choir 10 years ago,almost did not become a part of WCC. The organisation had sent him an e-mail request earlier this year,but he never received it. They got in touch with me again through an associate a week ago, he says. Nongkynrih was hesitant to accept the offer because SCC is full-time work,and I wanted to be sure that I could fulfill my commitments to WCC, he says. Now,the pianist-conductor-composer is trying to rush through pending work before flying to the US for the WCC meeting next month.
India has had a tradition of choral music going back to the Vedic era,even before the advent of Christianity in the country. I would like to bring the World Choir Games (WCG) to India to increase awareness about choir music. This is my task for the next few years, says Nongkynrih,adding that SCC will soon release albums in six languages,including Khasi and Malayalam.
The WCG,considered the Olympics of choir music,is held every two years. This year,the event will be held in Cincinnati in the US from July 4 to 14. Three Indian groups will compete in the event,and SCC will perform at the closing ceremony. Unlike a band,a choir can have as many as 100 people singing together. Thats what makes a choir also a symbol of harmony, he adds.