The best from the west

Universal tunes
Last Updated 07 February 2013, 13:28 IST

Music lovers and kids in the City couldn’t have asked for a better evening. ‘The Chicago Children’s Choir’, a 35-member group, that performed at the Bishop Cotton Boy’s School recently, sang their way into many hearts, young and old.

Parents made sure that they brought their kids for the hour-long concert, which featured as many as 15 songs in many languages, including Kannada.

It was heartening to watch kids from all nationalities sing in Kannada and Hindi too.

The evening began with the national anthem. For this, the choir wore an Indian outfit and interestingly, one witnessed several costume changes during the show.

The choir had children of different nationalities and races. That’s precisely why one got to hear songs from Korea, South Africa, Italy and Aruba to mention a few.

The choir rendered the song, ‘One Family, One Unity’, which is about peace in a strife-ridden world. Next an African song, Jangebandi was sung.

This, choreographed in true South African style, saw the choir groove to the beats. They sang a modern version of ‘God Bless the Child’ and ‘Run Children Run’.

The choir also performed a medley of Michael Jackson’s songs wherein about five or six pieces were knit together.

“This is a tribute to the King of Pop. The children have added their own inputs and created something new from the already existing tunes,” explains president and artistic director Josephine Lee.  About how the choir came together, Josephine says the choir was established at the height of the Civil Rights Movement as a way to unite children from different backgrounds.

The choir features children in the age group of eight to 18 years and reaches out to 3,200 children annually through choirs in 60 public schools and after-school programmes in eight Chicago neighbourhoods.

“Ours is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial group. The choir learns to sing in as many languages as possible and these tours give them an opportunity to experience the rich culture of different nations while exhibiting the power of music to unite people through the performances and exchanges,” adds Josephine, a Korean.

She points out that the choir believes in propagating peace among different nations by performing its repertoire spanning classical, world, gospel and popular music.
Those who sing for the choir vouch for its diversity and say that it gives them a feeling of oneness.

Fourteen-year-old Alexa says, “Being part of the choir teaches you how to respect different faiths and religions from across the world. The choir consists of people from different races, which makes all the difference.”

Samuel Augustine, a high school student feels, “The group induces a lot of energy in all its performances and thanks to our extensive travelling, we get to see and experience cultures.” Sheela John, a musician says, “There’s so much variety in what they perform. I was thrilled that they could sing in so many languages.”

Arul Raj, an academician adds, “These performances encourage a cultural exchange of sorts and it’s the lively rendition that really added to the charm of the evening.”  

(Published 07 February 2013, 13:24 IST)

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