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Khasi Opera, Piano Prodigies and Hip-Hop Heavyweights in Jaipur Next Month

The third edition of Raymond MTV India Music Summit takes place between October 4th and 6th

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Anurag Tagat Sep 25, 2019

The Shillong Chamber Choir will present arias from a Khasi opera at Raymond MTV India Music Summit. Photo: Courtesy of Musiconcepts

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In Jaipur early next month, a space for music discussions, performances and open mic sessions will be facilitated at Raymond MTV India Music Summit. Put together by music company Musiconcepts, India Music Summit takes place from October 4th to October 6th at The Fairmont hotel in Jaipur.

The lineup includes titans of Indian classical music including Aruna Sairam, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Shujaat Khan, Purbayan Chatterjee as well as the country’s best known voices across eras, Asha Bhosle and Sunidhi Chauhan. Adding to the contemporary side of the event are rapper Prabh Deep and singer-rapper and songwriter Raja Kumari. In addition to seasoned lyricist Prasoon Joshi, India Music Summit also includes a performance by 13-year-old piano whiz Lydian Nadhaswaram, among many more.

Apart from early morning sessions and workshops, one of the big draws at India Music Summit remains the feted Shillong Chamber Choir’s preview of a new Khasi opera titled “Sohlyngngem.” It’s conducted by the choir’s founder Neil Nongkynrih, a veteran pianist who is blending Khasi folk music, western classical and Indian classical to tell a “modern folklore” which breaks away from the classist traditions of the genre. He says, “I’ve had to scratch my head and find the narrow way in all of this. I have inside my soul both worlds.  I was in Europe for many years. So I had a lot of influence on the First Viennese School (referring to an era of composers), which is Mozart and Beethoven. But I am born and bred in India, so there’s also that part of me that you can take away. My opera has tabla in it.”

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Performing select arias from the three-hour “Sohlyngngem,” the Shillong Chamber Choir features Indian classical singers but also western orchestration. Coming out of marathon writing and rehearsal sessions, Nongkynrih says, “It is frustrating, because you’re doing something that most opera composers would write in one style from beginning to the end.” The conductor says that after receiving words of encouragement for previous performances of the piece – from the likes of master conductor Zubin Mehta and opera singer Andrea Bocelli – he’s gained a lot of confidence. He adds, “Mine is a tragic opera. You have the folk element there, but then when she sings the final aria, it’s much more western.”

More details on the Raymond MTV India Music Summit here.

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