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Lessons in Bach and beyond

Cantata choir will present a mix of classical western and Konkani music 

In 1988, when Olga Callaco was asked to take on the role of a conductor for The Cantata Choir, a cosmopolitan group of singers, it was supposed to be a three-month stint. “I was simply filling in for Dr Fareed Curmally, a pianist who was doing the job back then,” says Callaco. Curmally, son of Mehmood Curmally, owner of Mumbai’s erstwhile gem Rhythm House, was back then doing his MD (Doctor of Medicine), and was supposed to return in the next couple of months. “Curmally knew my daughter, Natasha quite well. So, on his request, we decided to become a part of it,” she says. While her mother is the conductor of the choir, Natasha has been with the group as a soprano singer since then.

Olga Callaco (in black) leads the choir
Olga Callaco (in black) leads the choir

Interestingly, Curmally never got back to the job, and Callaco continued with it. “In fact, the other day during a rehearsal, someone from the group reminded me that I’ve been here for more than 25 years!” says Callaco.

This year, she will complete 27 years with the Cantata Choir that began its journey under the baton of Joachim Buehler, a German conductor. In the 43 years of its existence, the Cantata Choir has come out with soul stirring renditions of major works by Bach, Haydn, Handel, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Weber, Gounod, Pergolesi, Zipoli SJ., Lambillotte S.J, Puccini, Orff and other well known composers and since 1988, with its carol concerts.

This week, it will present Mass in E Flat by WA Leonard and other Sacred Music. “We have always dabbled in classical western and spiritual music, but two years ago, I decided to get into the Konkani music genre,” she says. While the first part of the show will focus on classical music, post interval, Callaco will delight the audience with renditions using the mando, dulpods and dakni. Apart from Natasha, the other soloists include tenor Kersi Gazdar. The choir will be accompanied on the pianoforte by Marilynne Chhabra and Raymond Albuquerque on the Gumot.

“I feel, the Cantata Choir is one of the best places to nurture one’s God-given talent and enhance musical education. Most members of the cosmopolitan group, including my daughter, have found it a rich and edifying experience,” says Collaco.

WHERE: The Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
WHEN: June 28, 7 PM
ENTRY: Rs 200 - Rs 300
Call: 66223737

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