By Our Special Correspondent
Shillong: Neil Nongkynrih is now officially the new representative from India as member of The World Choir Council for the period 2012 to 2016.
The Council is the highest international advisory board of INTERKULTAR, which meets regularly to discuss and make resolutions in conjunction with UNESCO International Music Council.
More than 70 countries are represented and members are chosen because of their expertise and renown in the choral world.
Neil Nongkynrih will replace Professor Andre de Quadros from Boston University as the sole representative from India.
Speaking to The Shillong Times, Neil said, ‘I am apprehensive about the task, as it is a huge responsibility to fulfill. I have been invited to Cincinnati (USA) for the World Choir Games this July. We will discuss ways to promote not just choral music in the western tradition but I see huge possibilities for India in its traditional folk and classical traditions.”
In a BBC interview with Neil a few weeks ago (with Aled Jones) the Shillong Chamber Choir’s (SCC) Malayalam song Madi Madi was played on prime time! Aled Jones put it along with Beethoven and Handel, as it was a predominantly western classical programme.
“A few years ago, I doubt such a thing would have happened. The world is changing,” Neil said.
Currently the SCC is busy with their film Goodbye December scheduled to be released later this year. In an animated discussion, Neil said, “We are now going ‘south’ and experimenting with Carnatic scales. It’s always healthy to move on and not stay in a rut.”
Reminiscing his stay in the UK where the Mizo bamboo dance was performed, Neil said it was a big hit at the Edinburgh Tattoo.
“I hope my voice in the Council will bring more awareness of the diversity and rich culture we have in India. Although you would not usually tag a bamboo dance under choir music, but through innovation you could have a marriage of music and dance and represent a culture that the world needs to be exposed to,” the music maestro of Meghalaya stated.
South African traditional singing has the most intricate harmonies, but it needed a Simon and Garfunkel to bring awareness on a larger global scale, Neil informed, adding that it requires a thought process about where to place what, how much and where to push the boundaries. This he said is vital to get a slot in this busy and highly competitive world called showbiz
The Shillong Chamber Choir has also been invited to sing in the closing ceremony of the World Choir Games at Cincinnati. They are presently recording with Peninsular Studios in collaboration with Universal and Nokia.
Asked if he was excited about this new journey Neil chuckled, “These days I rarely have time for fizzy bubbles of thrill over coatings of fame and for that matter money. There is so much more at stake when we talk of success. Life is full of unexpected turns. Soberness is a great bodyguard. A wonderful and meaningful conversation is as much a source of joy, as would a good performance at a concert. I do what I do because it is my job and I want to be successful in my chosen field. But that would be true of any other calling.”
Neil says at present, he wants to do justice to his appointment as the representative from India to the WCC and to do it with sincerity, “for my people and my country.”