Madras Youth Choir will debut their Carnatic renditions at Kennedy Center
It’s late on a hot Sunday afternoon but the hall at Adyar is buzzing with life as 27 members of the Madras Youth Choir (MYC) are well into their practice session for their concert in Washington DC. Men seated at the back, their voices ranging between high tenors and bass; the women in the front, divided as sopranos, mezzos and altos — a common sight for anyone used to choral music. The only thing seemingly out of place — Subramania Bharati’s Paaru Pullae.
Forty five years since its inception, the MYC, one of the oldest of its kind, is taking its unique form of Indian choral music to the world. Specifically the Kennedy Center for Music and Fine Arts, which has a long history of honouring those in performing arts including music legends Ray Charles and Led Zeppelin. Representing India as one of the two choral groups from the country, MYC will take part in the JFK Centennial Celebrations at Washington DC between June 27 and July 3. “The Serenade 2017 Festival celebrates John F Kennedy’s legacy by inviting choirs from countries that have benefited from the work of the Peace Corps,” shares PC Ramakrishna, a veteran thespian.
Presenting a repertoire of 20 songs in various Indian languages, each piece will range from simple harmonies to complex choral arrangements, their voices as evergreen as their talent. “Carnatic music does not have harmonies and solo singing does not require any melodic coordination. However, in a choral format, the complexity is much higher. But, that gives you the space to innovate,” explains Ramakrishna, before he heads back to singing the bass for Zahida Kitchlew’s duet Gaaye Jaa. While the group will perform alongside the 18 other participating choirs from 14 countries at Kennedy Concert Hall, the MYC will have concerts at the Kennedy Millenium Center and the Emmanuel Episcopal Church.
As a part of the Finale concert, the group will also present a six-minute piece — a medley of seven songs titled Mazhai, and be a part of the mass choir conducted by Joshua Habermann, Director of Dallas Symphony Centre.
On June 30, Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC. Details: kennedy-center.org/calendar/