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A special world of music from North-East

Revolving round the life of a pianist who has created a world of music for underprivileged children in the North-East is a special documentary that was screened in the Capital on Wednesday.

“The Shillong Chamber Choir” is a short film that has been directed by Bollywood scriptwriter Urmi Juvekar. After working as a concert pianist for 13 years in Europe, Neil Nongkynrih returned to the picturesque hill station of Shillong in Meghalaya. The accomplished pianist, who studied at the Guild Hall School of Music and Trinity College, London, started the Shillong Chamber Choir in 2002 to “gather some people around and play a variety of music”. Unique in its repertoire, the choir specialises in Western classical music.

Shillong Chamber Choir is basically a little home school where 16 boys and girls live, study, pray and practise music under the guidance of its founder Neil. The documentary captures various moments from the choir’s daily life as it prepares for the next concert.

Due to their perfection and perseverance, the choir gained critical acclaim as a distinct voice from the North-East. Since its inception the choir has performed in Britain, Poland, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Italy and the Indian cities of Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Guwahati.

Along with hymns, the choir also sings Mozart and Khasi opera.

Pointing out that it was a challenging task to make the film as she had no knowledge about Western classical music, Urmi says: “When I was approached by Amit Dasgupta from the External Affairs Ministry to direct this film, I had some reservations. I was not trained to be a musician, but when I went to Meghalaya in December it was an emotionally overwhelming experience to see children get training in music. Someone like me got floored listening to their kind of music.”

The film director’s work has been shown on Doordarshan Metro, ZDF Arte and various international film festivals. Besides scripting Hindi films, she has also penned soap operas for television.

Staff Reporter

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