After Shillong Chamber Choir, Meghalaya’s Aroha Choir to perform another world class act

After Shillong Chamber Choir, Meghalaya’s Aroha Choir to perform another world class act

That music flows through every Meghalayan’s vein is widely known and acknowledged and from time to time as world-class musical talents emerge from the “abode of clouds” to claim centre stage on various platforms.
This time, it is the turn of the celebrated Aroha Choir’s juniors to leap onto the international stage after the world acclaimed Shillong Chamber Choir that has won the hearts of many.
Members of the Aroha Choir, based in Shillong under the guidance of Pauline Warjri, have performed for presidents and prime ministers and last year its junior members completed their London College of Music exams with distinction.
The Aroha Junior Choir, which has bagged top positions in local inter-school competitions, will now take part in the prestigious 71st Choral Competition in the United Kingdom’s Llangollen in July, that is if they can rustle up the funds required to send the team.
“This competition will give our young singers the international exposure that they need and will pave the way for many of our young singers to take up a career in music,” Aroha Choir’s founder-director Warjri says speaking exclusively to the Hindustan Times.
The Choral Competition is where the best choirs from around the world come to compete. Among the past luminaries to perform at the competition was Luciano Pavarotti, who attained stardom after making his debut in Wales.
The Arohans will be taking part in the open, folk and acapella categories. Four of the young singers will also contest in the solo Western Classical section in the 12-16 years category and 16-19 years.
The team of 20 singers need to raise at least Rs 40 lakh for their travel, lodging and food and are trying to raise the money through concerts, food festivals, radio and television programmes.
“I need to keep pushing the choir to new heights. It is not just about singing. Education should be about kindling a thirst for knowledge – children discovering who they are, what brings them joy and what does not, how to work, how to learn and how to think,” Warji, a Licentiate of Trinity College London, says.
“Music is an essential part of that discovery. The training has taught children about endurance, time management and working as a team. We have learned to pursue truth, honesty and excellence not only in our art but in lifestyle as well,” according to the elder sister of Shillong Chamber Choir founder Neil Nongkynrih.
Warjri points out that the biggest hurdle for the choir is managing time as schools reopen. She is, however, confident her kids “will manage their time profitably” and dispel away the myth that once children are in Class 9 or 10 they must concentrate only on their studies.
“Life is all about preparing for the real world and what better to do it than in this manner. My choir kids have no time to waste. Every minute is accounted for. We meet for practice only on weekends these days,” Warjri says.
“The kids come from 11 different schools. Each school principal has expressed support and delight at the kids being selected except for one school. This is a major setback.”
Dr Allister Lynrah is happy with the opportunity his child has got and says it is not just any competition and “it has already moulded and shaped our children even before Wales.”
“… The discipline, patience, hard work and character building which were all instilled so lovingly by their mentor, Aunty Pauline are something we parents couldn’t have done alone to shape them at this tender age,” Lynrah says.
And, the Arohans are looking forward to reaping the fruit of their hard work on the international arena.
“This competition is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I feel so privileged to have gotten the chance to compete in the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. Taking up this journey has helped me grow not only as an artist but as an individual too,” 15-year-old Phila Thangkhiew says.
“It’s always been a dream to compete against professional choirs across the globe, and now we’re going to do it. I really hope that our hard work will bring great success,” 19-year-old Hassel Syiemlieh echoes the similar sentiments.
A prestigious setting such as this could open up avenues for the youngsters and two of Aroha’s members are currently studying in the UK and US on full scholarships.
“As a choir, we would like to use our music for raising funds for charitable causes, particularly in education and health. Winning this competition will give us a voice and also put India and the northeast region on the world map,” Warjri says.