Neil Nongkynrih puts 15 years of research in Shillong Chamber Choir’s Christmas album
Ten years Ago, Shillong Chamber Choir led by Padma Shri awardee and classical pianist Neil Nongkynrih, shot to national fame after winning the second season of the reality show, India’s Got Talent. Ringing in the festive season this year, the Meghalaya-based choir, which has won millions of hearts with their captivating performances in Europe, the UK, Canada, North America and South-East Asia, launched their album, Come Home Christmas. A culmination of Neil’s 15 years of research, the album has a multi-lingual flavour including middle-eastern influences. Neil, who believes in the power of prayer, takes us through his album and filming his opera, Sohlyngem. Excerpts:
How special is Come Home Christmas for you?
I have spent 5,475 days or 15 years researching and putting this album together. It is something totally different from what we have created so far. The sole inspiration has been ‘prayer’. I am a firm believer that true inspiration comes only from the divine and it’s the prayer of the heart that brings the wisdom from above. Having said that, the album has pieces that are quite ‘ordinary’ too.
The album has a multilingual flavour. Tell us more.
The choir is known for singing in different dialects and our combination of English and Hindi is quite popular. We hope this album will have the same effect as this is the first time that the choir has attempted to sing in Middle-Eastern languages that are appropriate to the Christmas story. We have incorporated a bit of ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus Christ himself. Other languages include Hebrew, Farsi and Urdu as a part of the ancient languages spoken during that period.
The team recently collaborated with Shekhar Rajviani for Aatishbaziyaan. What other collaborations can we expect in the future?
We’re always open to new ventures and are especially interested in collaborating with Sufi singers. Currently, we’re working on a collaboration with Sanam and are in talks with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan for a joint venture.
How was lockdown for the team and what are the future plans?
Surprisingly we’ve had more work during this lockdown than the pre-pandemic period. This is partly due to the fact that we now have our own TV Studio within our premises from where we are live streaming concerts both in India and abroad. And ironically our first show was for Boston. Apart from music writing, we will be doing more virtual concerts. The future plans also include the filming of my opera, Sohlyngem