Meghalaya loses a musical gem

The shocking news of the passing away of Neil Nongkynrih, the founder director, Shillong Chamber Choir has shocked the world of music. That this should happen on Meghalaya’s fiftieth birthday makes the loss even more tragic. Music has no barriers and Neil connected so seamlessly with his varied musical genre to a range of people across the world. Indeed, the world is poorer by one more versatile genius and as such don’t walk this earth too often. Having mastered the art of writing music early in life Neil mentored the Shillong Chamber Choir that are now established as a formidable group that can take the stage anywhere by storm. Having won the tough India’s Got Talent competition in 2010, there was no turning back for Neil and the Choir. They just surged ahead to win the hearts of whoever listened to them.
Neil Nongkynrih and the Choir were composing the music for Meghalaya’s 50th year but without him to lead the Choir and inspire it, the journey would, for now be almost unbearable. But it is because Neil had portends of an early demise that he built up leaders who could stand their ground amidst great challenges. There have been many occasions when the Shillong Chamber Choir performed without their director but they still managed to wow the audience. That is real leadership where second rung leaders are built to take on the baton after the leader passes on.
For the Shillong Chamber Choir it has not been an easy journey. Discipline, hard work, rigour and mental and emotional strength all go into producing good music. It may look easy to the audience but the sleepless nights and rigorous practice over weeks and months is what people don’t see. Far from being a glamorous job to be part of the Choir is also to learn team spirit. Neil Nongkynrih has trained his team to pursue a selfless life and to give their best. This sort of grooming is what will stand the Choir in good stead in the days to come. In fact the Shillong Chamber Choir represents the best leadership model – it’s the model of servant-leadership which is in fact biblical. Leaders don’t command others to do what they don’t do themselves. Leaders lead by example. Neil Nongkynrih did that and made everything look easy. But only those who know the journey of the Choir would know the rough edges. It is this journey that must be documented for posterity. On a dark Wednesday, Meghalaya has lost a legend but legends live in the minds and hearts of people and continue to inspire well beyond their lifetime.

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