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ICI Central Choir: From NE to Bengaluru, with music of peace

Monday, August 20, 2012

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
They came to Bangalore undeterred by the fact that their own ilk was leaving the city in droves. For they knew that their music had a message of harmony, love and peace and be a balm for the troubled times.

The first performance of the Independent Church of India's central choir outside the northeast may not have been perfectly timed, keeping the recent incidents in mind, but the choir decided to go ahead shrugging off security concerns.

"We are not afraid of staying in Bangalore though many of our brothers and sisters have left the city scared for their lives," said Rev Jothanghrim Joute, youth coordinator for the choir. "Though we look like foreigners because of our Mongoloid features, we are very march a part of India. We bring the message of love and pray for peace and harmony to prevail in Bangalore and different parts of the country marred by communal tensions," he said.

The choir comprises members mostly Mizo Hmar tribals from Churachandpur district in Manipur. Hundreds attended the show by the Manipuri choir at Richmond Town's Methodist Church, which was highlighted by an extraordinary performance on Sunday evening. While the group of 25, accompanied by their conductor, sang church songs and hymns praising the Lord, their performance was infused with vibrant rock, jazz and blues influences that had the audience in thrall.

The choir, which has 12 albums to their credit, sang a set list of 20 songs, consisting of hits like Hallelujah, The Lord's Prayer, Longing for heaven and The Glory of the Lord, in English, and local North Eastern languages like Hmar and Dulian. "Amidst the prevailing tensions, the choir arrived at the right time to rejoice life. We all are children of God and we celebrate our oneness with the music," said Pastor Jonathan Bangera. (TNN)



Dr Micky Morton,who spoke to BTon behalf of the Independent Church of India Central Choir,says choral music is popular in the city
~Taniya Talukdar 

How many cities has the ICI (Independent Church of India) Central Choir toured outside the northeast 
The choir is performing for the first time outside the northeast.Church budgets are low and they cannot afford too many tours.

Is gospel music popular in Bangalore 
Yes,gospel music is very popular among the youth in Bangalore,irrespective of religious beliefs.For example,Ernie Hasses show was a sell-out last Sunday.The older audience is also very appreciative of classical choral church music.

The Shillong Chamber Choir which won a reality show last year went on to perform at the White House for Obama.Do you see the ICI Central Choir doing the same in the near future 
No,chamber music with intricate musical arrangements and full orchestral backing is out of their budget.

The Shillong Chamber Choir is very experimental in terms of singing non gospel music.Have they tried experimenting too 
No,they are a church choir,so contemporary popular nonreligious music is not in their agenda.

The choir has 12 albums to its credit,how popular have they been 
The 12 music albums released are all hits,but restricted only to the northeast region.Almost everyone in the northeast,especially from the Christian community,is aware of these songs.

Mizos are known to have good voices but do you think their talent is explored enough 
Yes,they have immense vocal talent.This tour is to expose them to the rest of India,starting from Bangalore.More exposure will definitely create a greater awareness in mainland India,as you can see from the story of Mary Kom.I want to clarify that Mizo people are broadly clubbed together,but there are different sub-tribes among them.This choir is from the Hmar tribe.

What languages does the choir sing in 
They are singing in English,Hmar and Dulian for the concerts in Bangalore.

How do you intend to make gospel music and the choir popular 
Based on the feedback we receive from the audience,we plan to bring them back during Christmas.They might produce an English album and take it forward from there.

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