Choir for a cause

Feb 28, 2013, 00:04 IST | Gauri Pradhan

The Shillong Chamber Choir based in Shillong � which is now a household name with their melodious revamping of Bollywood songs � will be performing tomorrow along with Ustad Zakir Hussain for a cause.

They are supporting an initiative to educate children from the forgotten parts of India and fight all kinds of discrimination. Neil Nongkynrih, the director of the choir, was overwhelmed to get an opportunity to work for one more cause. Neil tells CS about the choir’s guiding force:

Neil Nongkynrih
Who: Neil Nongkynrih
What: On the Shillong Chamber Choir’s musical story 
PIC/ Santosh Nagwekar

Working for genuine people
I am a great one for supporting any cause if I feel that the people we are working with are genuine. We try to do anything that might help someone. Even a smile is enough sometimes. There’s this one incident, when a person came to my house in Shillong. It was a very inconvenient time, as we were in the middle of something else. We sang for him anyway and later found out that this person was going to take his own life that day. But our songs gave him hope. He later came and told us that we had saved his life.

Living in harmony
We have held lots of concerts in Shillong and our fans suggested that we showcase our talent in front of the world; tell them our region’s story. But we needed to become perfect at all that we knew. Also, we had to learn to be together. We travel a lot and traveling with unfamiliar people is not easy. Everyone has different habits and one must learn to adjust. So, we had to learn to live in harmony.

Friendship: The binding factor
Great and deep friendship binds my choir together. We live in a world where people are obsessed with fame and fortune. When a person goes behind that and human relationships get side-tracked, it’s very easy for a group to break up. When everybody wants their own platform, and wants to be a star, it’s impossible to survive in a group like ours, especially because we are a group of 16 people coming from different backgrounds. But our goal is charity in any form, and to do something concrete for our region. Having a greater goal than our selves is what keeps us going. Fortune then comes as a byproduct.

Commercial is not bad
I never planned to go commercial.  I believe in doing what I enjoy the most. We happened to land in a television show and they wanted us to sing Bollywood. So, we tweaked the original songs a little. If as a result something starts selling and becomes commercial, what’s wrong? As far as I know, we are the only choir that is completely professional and singing full time. So, I think it’s fair enough to go commercial. After all, we have to earn a living too. 

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