They say two heads are better than one. Does the same hold true for different forms of classical music? Neeta Helms would say so
When Neeta Helms came back to India seven years ago, she was delighted to find a growing demand for western classical music. “Because of the wealth of Indian classical music and dance, I guess there’s never really been a vacuum,” she says.
Helms is the founder and owner of Classic Movements, a concert touring company for orchestras and choirs that performs all over the world.
After speaking with choral communities in India, Helms realised the country needed choral directors experienced both in classical music and in training choirs. And so, the India Choral Fellowship (ICF) was born. The fellowship seeks to expose people to choral music and bolster existing programmes with teachers and resources.
The fellowship’s first guest conductor is Grammy awardwinning choral director Kevin Fox, who has spent the past two weeks training choirs in Delhi. ICF will send three more conductors later this year, with the goal of eventually sending more than 100 conductors and trainers to various cities, including Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta, Pune and Bengaluru.
Both Fox and Helms stress that they are trying to bolster Indian classical music by sharing western voice techniques. “If it stays authentically Indian, that’s marvellous,” Helms says. But she would love to see a blend of both classical styles.
“This is an opportunity to open some doors,” Fox says. “The world could use as much understanding and making music together as possible.”