Bengaluru's carol singers herald the Yuletide season
Choirs, Christmas, Covid... singing groups share with CE how they’ve tried to re-create the festive season after a subdued 2020
There’s a festive feel in the air finally after spirits were dampened last year with the raging pandemic. Some churches have now resumed offline services, even as others are carolling, virtually. While some like Bengaluru’s popular choir group The Bangalore Men and Cappella Bangalore performed at St Mark’s Cathedral, Bangalore International Centre and St Andrew’s Church, others like All Saints’ Church are still doing last-minute rehearsals for the final show.
Speaking to CE, Jonas Olsson, who led The Bangalore Men and Cappella Bangalore, says that it is great to perform live once again. “We’ve been singing, virtually, since the lockdown, having only done a few live shows. From
September, we started performing live again...to be able to sing Christmas carols again in front of a live audience feels good,” he explains.The choir had virtual rehearsals prior to the main concert where they sang carols dating back to the 1600s. “We didn’t face too many challenges as such since we have been practising this way for a while now. There were 40 members who came together. We really missed the audience interaction and connection,” says Olsson, who points out that some choirs in the city dissolved during the pandemic as it was difficult to get everyone on board.
Keeping in line with the Covid-19 guidelines were St Thomas Mar Thoma Church Marathahalli choir members. Choirmistress Leyah Rachel John explains, “Our Christmas carol services are both offline and online this year. While majority of the songs were pre-recorded and presented virtually on Sunday, we also had some members of the choir present on the day for the programme.”
With about 25 singers, they started practising this way in September. “We did meet in person on weekends for our practice sessions, but for the final run, we sent across the recordings (of different parts) and we merged it together as a virtual show for the audience,” John further explains. The choir had a combination of both English and Malayalam songs, along with Sunday school children putting up a show to celebrate the festive season.
Looking forward to their carol service is All Saints’ Church, Richmond Town, on December 18. Choirmistress Lillian Zachariah says, “Our focus for carol service this year is to look at the story of Christmas. We’ll be singing old traditional songs to the modern ones, blending a bunch of styles, telling the story as the whole service goes on.”
The group started practising in November as they were busy with other church festivities as well. “We’re practising with different groups every single day as we’re getting ready and we can’t wait to perform live in front of an audience. It’s truly going to bring out the Christmas spirits in us,” says Zachariah.