Choral summer in Mumbai
Ahead of Trinity Laban Choir's maiden concert in India, its director Ralph Allwood is excited to showcase a symphony of soulful voices
Ralph Allwood in rehearsal with the Trinity Laban Choir
Rumour has it that George Frideric Handel wrote the legendary Dixit Dominus is his 20s, three centuries ago, while travelling in Italy, and specifically for the singers he found there. Decorated composer and conductor Ralph Allwood thinks that's what's going to win over Mumbaikars tomorrow, when he and the Trinity Laban Choir perform at the NCPA. The music maestro says he got into chapel music because he felt that all of the best choral music was written for use by the church and that "the lovely music combined with the beauty of the buildings" made it irresistible for him.
Part of the world's only conservatoire dedicated to chapel music (a college for the study of classical music), the Old Royal Naval Trinity Laban Chapel Choir is ready to enthrall an audience for the first time in India. "India is such a fascinating country, and several people said they would like to travel here. In spite of having run 40 choir tours, I had never been to India before, so it certainly seemed like a good idea to me!" says Allwood about why the choir decided to finally come here.
"They are all conservatoire singers. They take their singing very seriously and need to know how to blend their vowel sounds; they sing with absolutely precise tuning, and read all of the parts around them, so that they know exactly how they fit into the sound," informs Allwood, while speaking of the training and practice that preceded their performance in India.
Rhiana Davis, one of the performers in the choir, says he has been struck by the vibrancy of Mumbai ever since they arrived over the weekend, and that while he looks forward to their performance, he's also excited about the possible exposure to Indian music. "One of the members is keenly interested in Indian metal, particularly in the resurgence of the band Bloodywood! Others have had more commercial exposure through classic Bollywood films. But other than that the choir has had little exposure to Indian music, so this trip is proving to be a great starting point,"" Davis shared.
On the other hand, Allwood says the chief source of his introduction to Indian music comes from Gustav Holst, a British composer who infused western classical traditions with hymns from the Rig Veda, while sticking to Indian classical influences in the rhythm and tonality. "Then, of course, there is Ravi Shankar," Allwood adds.
Speaking of what Mumbai - a city with a penchant for indie, pop, rock and commercial genres - could look forward to in the choir's performance, Allwood says, "Personally, I think the very best aspect of choral music is simply the beautiful sound that well blended and balanced voices make, and I do hope that we will be able to win people over with that."
On: April 19, 7 pm onwards
At: Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
Log on to: bookmyshow.com
Cost: Rs 240 to Rs 600
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