Music to the President’s ears

Ao Naga Choir

Luna Yaden, founding member of the little-known Delhi-based Ao Naga Choir, talks about their performance at the Rashtrapati Bhavan last evening

This is the chance of a lifetime," remarked Luna Yaden, a member of the Ao Naga Choir, as they were preparing to perform for the First Citizen of India and his guests at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday evening. The choir, part of the Delhi Ao Baptist Church, comprises university students and working professionals from Nagaland's Ao community who reside in Delhi. Having won several competitions earlier, the rather humble choir reached the Rashtrapati Bhavan only on the basis of word-of-mouth publicity.

Members of the choir, who had prepared an exclusive combination of choiral, contemporary and band music for the occasion, performed a 45-minute set of 15 songs to kick off the Christmas mood at Rashtrapati Bhavan. "We have practised for a few weeks. The auditorium at the Rashtrapati Bhavan has state-of-the-art facilities," said an excited Yaden. Not to leave the common people out of these Christmas joys, the choir is performing the same set at the Catholic Redemption Church in Delhi today.

But cliched as it may sound, the choir's journey to the top hasn't been easy. Formed in 2009, the choir has 30 members of the Baptist church, who got together after discovering their common love for church music.

Their repertoire contains Western classical songs, broadway musicals, Moroccan Renaissance music, Christian church and Ao Naga music, besides choruses from opera and operetta. Many of the choir members work as music teachers in various schools in Delhi. But the setback, Yaden pointed out, "is not being able to find enough time to perform or rehearse", since many of them are either students or working professionals. "So, we practise only two hours on Sundays, before the church proceedings start," he said.

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