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An eclectic bunch of choral voices

S.R. Praveen
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A Sunday evening walk by the YMCA hall adjacent to the old British Library is sure to be accompanied by a soprano wafting from the building’s interiors. This is where the Trivandrum Choristers Association (TCA) conducts its weekly rehearsal sessions. It is one of the few choirs in the city that is independent of the church.

Wielding the baton of the choir is S.P. Thomas, who has been a constant presence in the Thiruvananthapuram choir scene since the late 1950s. Sitting behind a piano, he guides the group of around 45 members with his deep bass voice.

Since 1957

“We started off the choir as Trivandrum Male Voices (TMV) in 1957, under the guidance of J. John, an expert in harmony singing. We used to perform in churches and other venues and also toured various cities. In 1969, the first of the female voices came in and thus the mixed choir, TCA, was born,” says Mr. Thomas.

Now the group has a mix of students, working employees, and retirees, with the youngest member aged 16 and the oldest, 75. It performs thrice every year.

Every voice

“The voices of children do not fit in but once their voice breaks, it will suit us. In a choir, there is a place for every type of voice from the deep to the high ones. We take in people who have interest and can sing in pitch and to the beat,” he says.

Over the years, the group has collaborated and performed with various international composers and choirs ranging from Switzerland-based Francois Deriaz in the 1970s to the Vienna University orchestra early this year.

They sing both traditional choir songs and Western classical compositions by the likes of Beethoven, Mozart, and Handel.

“There are many serious choir groups outside of the church in the bigger cities. But here, it does not have much of an existence outside of the churches. Even in churches, the western compositions are slowly being taken over by Malayalam songs,” says Mr. Thomas.

Children’s choir

Another upcoming choir is the Resonance Children’s Choir formed by Santhosh George. Calling itself a ‘secular choir,’ it has already performed songs from Sound of Music and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat . It also performs patriotic songs in various regional languages.

“The objective of the Children’s Choir is to enable children to develop a love for singing through enjoyable learning and performing experiences. We give the children voice training and notation-reading skills along with the choral singing. No fee is being charged for membership,” says Mr. Santhosh.

We take in people who have interest and can sing in pitch and to the beat

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