With the second edition of their annual production, a diverse ensemble of friends and fellow musicians gather to glam up the usual Christmas harmonies
Wilburn D’Costa, Gerwin Machado, Risa Desa, Lisa Rodrigues, 2Blue, Suneeta Rao and George Joseph at a rehearsal
It might not snow in Mumbai, but kids are already beginning to hum to Jingle Bells. As the season of Advent is observed, early orders for Christmas cakes are being placed, recipes are shared across window sills, and local music bands are holding rehearsals for the upcoming season. For Niloufer Rohira and Darren Das, producers and concept designers of the show, That Christmas Spirit and So Much More! 2.0, this began back in August itself. The weekend show at St Andrews Auditorium will kickstart the festivities of the season with a story filled with music and melodies.
Suneeta Rao and George Joseph at a rehearsal
The idea emerged at the end of last year’s show itself. Rohira explains, “We wanted to offer more than just Christmas carols for the audience. Hence, the term ‘and so much more’.” This feeling is evoked through the ensemble of performers, brought together anew for every edition. The weekend will see performances by vocalists Suneeta Rao, Das, Keshia B, Subhash Kamath, Amber Smith and Bianca Rosemeyer with Russell Fernandes, Sylvester Chaves and Wilburn D’Costa bringing up the orchestration alongside Enrico Rodrigues, George Joseph and Rajeev Raja. Though Raja was present through the rehearsals, a commitment means that he would have to perform through video.
A moment from the 2022 concert
The first edition of the production in 2022 was an attempt to shake off the COVID-19 hangover. She says, “We wanted to get people to come out, have a good time, and recall the joy of Christmas. That’s how the idea was born. The response encouraged us to go further.”
Das remarks, “Last year, we had Gary Lawyer, Siddharth Meghani and Giselle Pinto, among others. This time, it is a new ensemble. It is important to give the audience something different, whether it is in the arrangement or the choice of carols. Except for Feliz Navidad. It is an up-tempo anthem and then again, it won’t be Christmas without Feliz Navidad.”
Niloufer Rohira and Darren Das
The concert is not all music. Each song is part of a narrative that stitches the two-hour long performance together, he says. “There has to be a story, a musical trivia that connects them and engages the audience. We try to involve every artiste, their keys, voice textures and styles to make the best of it,” he says. It is also one of the reasons why the setlist expands beyond carols. Das notes that all the songs carry the Christmas spirit within them, but they are performed with individuality. “For instance, Tirthankar Poddar AKA 2Blue brings his rock vocals to the traditional caroling, while Rao brings her distinctive vocal style to the mix,” notes Rohira.
Another aspect of the performance is the community experience, the duo admits. “Christmas is about people. There are many supporters who simply turn up for our rehearsals to encourage us. It has become a bond between the community and the musicians,” Rohira points out. These visits also bring a touch of the Christmas spirit to the rehearsals. Das says, “Many of them turn up with festive food that they have prepared. A plate of biryani, some ice cream or a home-made cake. It doesn’t get more Christmas-ey than that.” Hard to argue with that one.
On: December 3; 7.30 pm
At: St Andrews Auditorium, St Dominic Road, Bandra West.
Log on to: in.bookmyshow.com
Cost: Rs 708 onwards
The choral trail
The Paranjoti Academy Chorus led by Firdause Wadia will perform Christmas music from around the world across five different venues in town. Drop in for some merry music.
On: December 2; 8 pm
At: St Anthony’s Church, Vakola, Santacruz East.
On: December 3; 7.30 pm
At: St Anne’s Church, Nesbit Road, Mazgaon.
On: December 6; 8 pm
At: St Peter’s Church, Hill Road, Bandra West.
On: December 9; 7.30 pm
At: St John the Baptist Church, Talao Pali, Thane West.
On: December 10; 7 pm
At: St Thomas’ Cathedral, Fort.