Notes from a concert

Notes from a concert

From the albums

Notes from a concert

This photograph is that of our choral group, ‘Madrigals Etc’. It was taken in 1999 during our first concert in the city, which was held at Alliance Francaise de Bangalore.

Our first concert was truly memorable. Although, it was our first stage performance, we were received well by the audience and somehow we felt connected to the City. We had practised long and hard and it was encouraging to get such an overwhelming response.
Music has always been an integral part of my life. I made Bengaluru my home in 1994 and in 1999, I  co-founded ‘Madrigals Etc’ along with a friend, George Kurian. I was born and raised in Brunei for most part of my life.

My growing up years in Brunei has played an important part in shaping my career as a musician. I still remember in school, I was the youngest in my class, and was always quite the nerd. By then, though I had already appeared on Brunei National TV and radio as a pianist and singer for which my mother had to drive 120 km one way to the studio. But the experience in dealing with the stage and camera from the age of six years taught me a lot. Later, I went to study music in Singapore and Australia before I decided to move to Delhi and later to Bengaluru.

As a student of music at the Western Australian Conservatorium, I was involved in a chamber choir, and so decided to continue the same in Bengaluru. That’s how ‘Madrigals Etc’ was formed. Madrigal is a form of choral music that was popular during the Renaissance era, where all voices are equal. Since, we do more than Madrigals, we named the group ‘Madrigals, Etc’.

This photograph has the first members of the group — Linus, George, Anoop, Nitya, Heeru and myself. I challenge was in doing something bold and different, something that no choir in India has attempted. When we began, I was determined to excel in this kind of music, and the rest of the choir members were eager to know more about the music and the experiments involved in understanding the same. I have seen how the choral group has changed over the years. The floating population of members has altered the sound and texture of the choir but we always aim to be better with every performance.

Thanks to social networking sites, I am still in touch with some of the members of the group. Linus was one of the first to join the group. He is now a religious brother in Mumbai. George was into graphic designing and now works on documentaries for BBC. Nitya is a trained vocalist and is currently based in the US. Heeru now lives in Singapore with her family (she is a Human Resource person). Unfortunately, I have completely lost touch with Anoop. We all were more like family than just members of the choir. We would meet once a week and in fact we would always look out for each other. 

My association with the choral group has changed my life in a lot of ways. I have been able to encourage young talents and extended a helping hand to the aged and infirm musicians by way of a pension fund. Besides, teaching piano and voice, and dabbling in composing, I have also realised my childhood dream of being a rock singer with my alternative rock band ‘The Majolly Project.’

Looking back, I owe my career in music and all the success that I have gained in it to my parents — Joseph Mathews and Molly Joseph Mathews, particularly to my father who was determined that his only child should become a musician. My father was my first music teacher, starting me off on the piano when I was just two-and a-half-years old. The name ‘Majolly’ comes from a combination of both my parents’ names, as my father was a firm believer in a child not taking the father’s surname alone. And today, I consider myself extremely lucky that my parents thought of no other career for me but music.

Neecia Majolly

(As told to Nina C George)
Neecia can be reached on majollymusictrust@gmail.

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