Metrolife: City chorus in Russia

‘The Harmony Chorus’ performed in Moscow on the invitation of a Russian conductor.

It’s not always that one gets to perform at prestigious venues overseas. But Bengaluru-based ‘The Harmony Chorus’, directed by Sandra Oberoi, got lucky for, they just returned from a concert tour in Russia. The choir also performed at Embassy of India and Gnessin Russian Academy of Music in Moscow. The concluding concert was at The Cathedral of Christ the Savior which is the largest Russian Orthodox Cathedral Gatchina Music School, near Saint Petersburg. Sandra is thrilled that the choir had the opportunity of performing before a well-informed and diverse audience. Sandra shares her experience of the tour with Metrolife:

What triggered the tour?

We were invited to sing in Russia by a popular Russian conductor from Moscow who heard us perform a few months ago at a choral festival in Hyderabad. I was willing to take up the offer as I had performed in Russia early last year and simply loved the country and it’s welcoming people! I’ve always hoped to take the choir to perform on an international stage, in any country where music forms a large part of the culture and instruction at school.

Was it easy to train the choir to flawlessly render complicated pieces?

Some of the children in my group have been with me for over two years and some even as long as eight years, learning music regularly at our music school and performing a number of challenging material over the years. This has given them the confidence, insight and the skill to be able to learn complicated material quickly and present it well.  

Did you also perform any Indian pieces during the tour? If so, what were they?

Yes, apart from our Western Classical, jazz and musical theatre songs that we performed there, we also sang a number of Bollywood medleys that I arranged for the choir.

We included a Khasi folk song at one of the events since the choir learns some Indian folk music too. 

What was the most challenging part of the tour?

The most challenging part was perhaps not knowing Russian fluently. However, we had some translators helping us on some occasions and were able to get around this language barrier. Despite this hurdle, it’s amazing how we communicated through the music so beautifully. 

Is Western classical music popular with Bengalureans?

With a few top music schools in the city offering robust training for Western Classical singing examinations, top musicians from around the world collaborating with Indian musicians for concerts in the city, the concept of recitals gaining steam, and also embassies hosting music concerts involving Western Classical artists from their respective countries, we see a larger number of people appreciating and patronising this genre now, more than ever before. 

Are you also making efforts to bring Indian elements into your music?

I believe in being versatile, building new skills, working on new techniques and presenting ourselves in a culturally relevant way, apart from making every effort to be the best we can be while singing music from different parts of the world. So I’ve started including some elements of Indian music whenever I can. It makes our concerts more exciting.

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Metrolife: City chorus in Russia

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