Festival Choristers herald Christmas spirit with a virtual concert


Hyderabad-based Festival Choristers herald the Christmas spirit with a virtual concert featuring past recordings of carols

The voices of singers, sound of violins and melody of flutes rise in harmony. With Christmas approaching, Festival Choristers, a group of nearly 40 singers and instrumentalists drawn from different faiths, ages and walks of life in Hyderabad will be ringing in the Yuletide spirit virtually on December 15.

“We were not able to meet and rehearse due to the pandemic; the virtual concert will have the past recordings by Choristers and we hope to have a wider reach,” says chorister Aruna Bahuguna, a former IPS officer.

The concert will have — songs selected from earlier performances of Festival Choristers and a performance by the junior choir in the end. Aruna says, “We used to end the concert with ‘Let There be Peace’. We used to be accompanied every year by Dr. Naveen Elias, except for two years. We have selected pieces to represent each conductor and want to keep the list of selected songs a surprise. ”

The one-hour performance will have a range of western classical (Mozart and George Frederic Handel), semi-classical, modern (John Rutter) as well as Hindi and Telugu numbers.

Performance by the Festival Choristers is an integral part of Christmas celebrations in Hyderabad, spreading love, peace and harmony through their music.

The group was founded by former IAS officers Daphne de Rebello and Rachael Chatterjee along with Aruna in 2006 when a group of singers presented their first concert in Administrative Staff College.

Twenty carollers used to perform at Raj Bhavan, Asian Institute of Gastroenterology or private halls to a select audience. As the audience numbers grew, the stage shifted to Ravindra Bharathi in 2007 and they started having annual concerts, both public and private.

Planning for the annual concert begins in June, from selecting the music to printing sheets. A nostalgic Aruna says, “We miss the buzz; it is a huge exercise of buying matching saris for women and getting the blouses stitched; the men in the group get their shirts tailored. We’d practice at home and meet once a week for rehearsals at Vidyaranya school and exchange the joy and warmth of singing together. All these experiences made us what we are.”

Deepti Moses, one of the younger team members, has taken over the managerial role of the group.

Adds Aruna, “This break has given us time to introspect and appreciate what we have. When we get together next year, we will be doubly appreciative of being able to do it; we realise what we are missing now.”

The link for Festival Choristers’ virtual concert will be uploaded on December 14 midnight on their YouTube channel and will be available for a month.

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