Our Spl Correspondent
Shillong: Only in Shillong will you have a western orchestra accompanying Bollywood and Khasi numbers in what many describe as a divine experience. The Vienna Chamber Orchestra (VCO) has been in Shillong for a week. The 12-member Vienna Orchestra led by Barna Kobori, accompanied the Shillong Chamber Choir (SCC) as they sang the evergreen Khasi song Por ba la leit.
The VCO matched the SCC beat for beat in another Khasi operatic rendition, Madeng and Khana Aiu composed by Neil Nongkynrih. Neil also arranged and rearranged the music for all the Khasi opera and Bollywood numbers.
Speaking to The Shillong Times on Saturday evening, Kobori said, “Christian Buchman the Director of the VCO had told us about the SCC. But frankly, though I had heard of them and seen them on YouTube I did not quite know what to expect,” adding that the first practice in Neil’s basement was mind-blowing.
Kobori said he found the choir performing in perfect harmony with not a voice out of sync. “They are comparable to the best choirs in Vienna if not better,” the VCO leader said.
Asked how he found the music arrangement by Neil, he said much of it was very different from what they usually play. “We normally do Classical and modern music. We have never done Indian or popular music. It was exciting and different to do a cross-over of this nature. We found the Desh band very good too,” Kobori said.
Mentioning that the sense of togetherness and ability to help one another was the key point that keeps the SCC in perfect fusion, Kobori said this is a unique feature and it is what makes them so good.
What was extraordinary about the ‘Bollywood Leitmotifs Also,’ which ran to a packed hall on both days (Friday and Saturday) and left many disappointed because the tickets were sold out, was the fascinating and seamless cross-over from western classical to Bollywood to modern western songs.
With Desh the 4-member Chennai band coming in after the second half of the show with different percussion instruments the evening lit up as the SCC performed some of the best Bollywood numbers, Yeh dosti and Aaajeeb dastan hai ye, amongst others.
Th oldest member of Desh, Paul who is all of 33 years said he found Shillong so amazing as far as the music scenario is concerned. The word, ‘Desh’ is a scale in Hindustani and Carnatic music, Paul said adding that he and his team would love to come and play here yet again.
The German classical song Mein Herr Marquis was translated to Hindi and sung by Iba Lyngdoh the female soprano of the Choir. But the icing on the cake was the last song, The Great Indian Train Journey, which gives the listener a graphic picture of a typical train journey and the activities that happen on the train and at every station.
Chai chai, samosa….samosa, kafe kafe… mishti doi … kept the audience in splits.
The two and a half hour show was an experience worth remembering. As some one from the audience said, “SCC betters itself with every performance.”
But the comment of a foreign visitor was telling. He said the SCC is a world class choir singing in a third class hall.” This is where the Government which repeatedly professes its commitment to music should take a call and come up with a state of the art auditorium for such world class performances, the visitor added.