Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The choir types!


“You don’t look like the choir type”, snickered a colleague, when I announced that I was leaving to make it in time for CCM practice. I asked him what a “choir type” looked like and everyone around chimed in with their version of what fit the bill – words like “sedate”, “reverent looking” and “pious types” were bandied about and some high pitched notes were shrieked out for my benefit to showcase what “choir types” sounded like. I tootled off for practice, after explaining to them that I didn’t sing in a church choir and that even if I did, church choirs hardly consisted of pious singers (sweet choir boys and convent girls are a myth J).  I listened to the learning tracks in the car (as with many of the other members of the choir, I listen to everything last minute in panic that I will be singled out during rehearsal to check if I know my music) – a rather “reverent” list ranging from “Who put the bomb in the bomb ba bomb” to “Heal the world” to rock gospel and everything in between.

Over my 3 years at the Capital City Minstrels (arguably Delhi's most well known and one of its oldest choirs) the “choir types” I’ve sung with are probably the funniest and most irreverent bunch of people I’ve ever met.  A few incidents come to mind over the years.  Our previous conductor, Fiona, was taking practice a few seasons ago and we had the accompanying percussionist, Suchet, thrum and drum and pum pum pum through one of the songs and finish with a flourish. Fiona (and all of us!) had watched him through this and when he ended she let out a long sigh to denote her approval/pleasure and within seconds a cheeky drawl directed at Fiona came from the ranks – “Cigarette?”. We erupted in raucous laughter and that one word still makes us remember that afternoon practice session.


We were in Goa for a music festival in 2012 and the sea air is enough to make everyone a bit crazy. Feni (that heinous drink that I am sure a few choir members who will not be named, have eternally
sworn to never partake of again), boisterous dancing including some on the bar counters, and more hedonism ensued over the next few days amid singing at a stunning church for the festival (such a memorable performance!) and at the governor’s house overlooking the sea!  One of the afternoons when we were all together at one of the shacks, Vanshika received a call on her cell phone - it was the cab driver from the night before. Sanjaya and a few of us were around her and overheard her saying something about “Whatttt…your pants…no, how could I have your pants, what are you saying?”. Sanjaya, always quick to jump into anything that looks vaguely murky, said “Oh my god Vanshika, what is this with the cab driver and his pants. What happened last night? You girls uff”.   We all roared with laughter and Vanshikha tried to make sense of the cabbie’s rantings.  It all settled down after a while as it turned out that she had picked up a packet from the cab, thinking it was hers, and therefore depriving the poor man of his trousers!


And so the madness continues – these are the only “choir types” I know really.  But don’t be
mistaken, for there is reverence as well.  We may not be a professional bunch of singers, some stronger than others, but the enthusiasm, passion and absolute mad joy on our faces when we’re belting out the notes – now that’s reverence!


After our summer concerts in the city, for two weeks in June 2015, our merry band of minstrels, 30 strong, will be journeying to Europe. The group consists of 27 singers, our brave leader – conductor, Carolin Remy (she is truly brave to embark with a raucous bunch for two weeks!) and two brilliant musician accompanists.  Eight concerts will be performed over 12 days in Hungary, Germany and Switzerland.  Along the way we intend to take touristy pictures and selfies galore as we travel to these places and assume that much of what happens in Europe will stay in Europe! So if you’re planning a holiday this summer, or have friends at any of the places mentioned, we’d be delighted to have a cheerleading squad there.  We work hard and have a wonderful time performing and are looking forward to a brilliant summer of singing in Europe!