IIC: Shil­long Choir Dis­ap­point

For mu­sic lovers who came with great ex­pec­ta­tions to en­joy their evening, the con­cert fell short of the class of ca­dences and choice

Millennium Post - - Around Town - UMA NAIR

Ex­pec­ta­tion writ large on minds and hearts and ears as mu­sic lovers set­tled into their seats at the Foun­tain Lawns at the In­dia In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for the con­cert of The Shil­long Cham­ber Choir who have re­galed mu­sic lovers all over the na­tion.

As we sat and waited it was clear that the speak­ers needed to be tweaked, de­lays seemed in­evitable and fi­nally, when they took the stage we hoped it would be an en­chanted evening full of mel­liflu­ous melody. The open­ing song was a Khasi ren­di­tion that mir­rored the essence of folk and the pri­mor­dial re­ver­ber­a­tions of drums lend­ing an acous­tic flavour as you heard fewer male voices meld­ing into over­pow­er­ing so­pra­nos. The Khasi song re­in­forced the beauty and ethos of the ver­nac­u­lar tra­di­tions in our coun­try.

One was hop­ing there would be more Khasi num­bers flow­ing into the night but the evening be­longed to a Bol­ly­wood cock­tail that made me won­der if Cham­ber Choir were script­ing new tastes with Bol­ly­wood hits and su­per­fi­cial whimsy.

The Shil­long Choir have been build­ing their reper­toire with Bol­ly­wood oldies and more con­tem­po­rary num­bers – in­deed the har­monies have noth­ing to be faulted with when they lilted into the lyri­cal ca­dences of Yeh Dosti and gen- tly scaled into Hai Yein Ajeeb das­taan

there was en­ter­tain­ment in ev­ery step and rhythm.

The next ren­di­tion of the favourite Stand by me and

Kaisi Pa­heli Zindagi seemed just right for the nip in the air as it gave way to the block­buster theme from Kal ho na ho laced with Ce­line Dion’s theme from Ti­tanic. The soloist’s ren­der­ing of Love Story made one think of the tin­kle of bells and whis­per soft keys in the orig­i­nal sound­track.

The in­stru­ments were too loud and jar­ring in equaliser tones. The Shil­long Choir’s ar­range­ment of Rabindranath Tagore’s Ekla Cholo Re made you think of the fire of na­tion­al­ism and the spirit of the very be­ing of the Re­nais­sance Man Tagore. When Choti Si Aasha from the film Roja pepped up the beat, it was clear that the al­bum of mem­o­ries took on a Bol­ly­wood beat and essence.

While the new com­po­si­tion Train Jour­ney seemed full of noises and sounds and rhyth­mic res­o­nance you won­dered why the Cham­ber Choir that had dul­cet and so­prano voices with tenor and bari­tones were belt­ing out so many Bol­ly­wood tracks.

The Rock n Roll num­ber fol­lowed by Abba’s Danc­ing Queen seemed just a spo­radic throw me in the mo­ment but it was the As­sam An­them that be­came the sig­na­ture in­signia of the evening that could have been

one of the spec­tac­u­lar songs. Few things came to the fore, for a group that charges as high as Rs 25 lakhs to sing to crowds one could not help feel­ing that they have sold their soul to the Bol­ly­wood for­mat. While Dil Tadap Tadap ke kehra ha hai

aa Bhi jaa is in­deed a Mukesh gem­stone what was miss­ing in the evening were the clas­sics, the light west­ern clas­si­cal pieces, and the short stac­cato opera num­bers that have been part of many con­certs all over the world. For a mu­sic lover who came with great ex­pec­ta­tions and want­ing an evening to cher­ish the con­cert fell short of the class of ca­dences and choice. In terms of the bal­ance of voices even if the male voices were less one felt that there were treated as also-rans.

The male voices were rel­e­gated to the back­ground and the fe­male soloists were given lion’s share of the evening. When that hap­pens to an en­sem­ble the en­tire bal­ance of echo­ing el­e­gance gets tilted and you end up with only so­prano voices while the males are re­duced to sim­mer­ing whis­pers. The con­duc­tor and Di­rec­tor of the Shil­long Cham­ber Choir will have to de­cide whether he would like the choir to be recog­nised as a group of charis­matic cho­rale singers or just be re­duced to a Bol­ly­wood past and present group who only want to en­ter­tain. The girls’ cos­tumes too could get a fresh stroke un­less you want dresses that shim­mer like the scales of a ser­pent.

The open­ing song was a Khasi ren­di­tion that mir­rored the essence of folk and the pri­mor­dial re­ver­ber­a­tions of drums lend­ing an acous­tic flavour as you heard fewer male voices meld­ing into over­pow­er­ing so­pra­nos

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