Trivandrum Male Voices and Trivandrum Choristers Association are performing on Friday with the Vienna University Choir and Coimbatore Chamber Chorale

Fifty-six years ago, a group of six young men approached J. John, a maestro of church music and harmony singing, and wanted him to hone their musical abilities. Sensing their potential, John trained them and named the group Trivandrum Male Voices (TMV). The group consisted of Sam Justin Moses, A. Livingstone, A. Joshua, A. John Jaysingh, A. Lionel Jacob, T. Jayakumar Alfred and S.R.K. Rasalam. On John’s death in 1959, S. P. Thomas, a driving force behind the formation of the choir began leading the group.

Says Handel Thomas, S.P. Thomas’ son who apologises for his father’s ‘media shyness’: “Trivandrum Male Voices was started by a group of friends who loved music and enjoyed singing. My father was a student of University College then and his friends were studying in other colleges when they formed TMV. ”

Thomas had trained well under John. A self-taught organ player, he learnt the techniques of harmonisation and arrangement, along with the theory of music.

“My father has arranged several hymns such as My Great Redeemer, Song of Soldier and the Hallelujah chorus from the Oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives for male voices according to the availability of voices in the group. He is now the choir leader and organist of the English service at Mateer Memorial Church.”

In 1968, D.G. Issacs, a professor at Bishop Moore College, Mavelikara, received a transfer to Mar Ivanios College. A keen musician, he soon got involved with TMV. He encouraged the group, who till then rendered mostly gospel and secular songs, to sing classics of the maestros in Western music. Soon, they were participating in YMCA’s Christmas pageants and performing on AIR.

As by then the single young men of TMV were married, Issacs suggested that the wives, who were also musically inclined, form a separate group with the men as members too. Thus Trivandrum Choristers Association was formed in 1970.

“Most of the early members and their families are still members. While TMV meets every Tuesday at the LMS Compound, TCA meets every Sunday at YMCA. It’s like a family get-together each time we meet for practice.”

Currently there are 50 members in TMV and 40 in TCA. They still sing cantatas, choruses from Oratorios, hymn arrangements and spiritual tunes. Apart from participating in various music events in and around the country, the two choirs make it a point to conduct concerts in the city twice a year.

“Both TMV and TCA are not part of any church or denomination. We have members of different churches and even others who love Western classical music as members.”

All male members of TMV are members of TCA. Only men who have broken in their voices are admitted to TMV. Woman above the age of 14 can join TCA.

Musical notes

Members of TMV and TCA are looking forward to performing in the city with 70 artistes of the Vienna University Choir led by Vijay Upadhyaya, director of Vienna University, and artistes of Coimbatore Chamber Chorale led by Faith Ragland. String artistes who form the India National Youth Orchestra, founded by Vijay, will be accompanying the choir. This programme is part of Vienna University Choir’s South Indian tour of concerts. The performance is at 6.30 p.m. at St. Theresa of Lisieux Church, Vellayambalam, on March 8. The event is open to the public. A Malayalam song, ‘Oru Gaanam’, written by Cherian Oommen, choir master of Salem Marthoma Church, will also be rendered.