In an age when music is increasingly evolving into a visual experience, choral music might not really be the most ‘happening’ form of entertainment. Yet, here is a choir group that is still going strong on its 20th anniversary with songs that have inspired an entire generation.
The MBS Youth Choir was founded to perpetuate the memory of musical genius M.B. Sreenivasan by his friend Sharmaji. The choir, which specialises in songs that evoke nationalism and social commitment, changed the face of group music through harmony singing.
“Sreenivasan Sir was the first music composer to introduce multiple-tone choral singing in Malayalam. The result was a harmonious blend of melody of Indian music with Western choral music,” said MBS Youth Choir president Mathew T. Itty.
What makes Sreenivasan’s songs even more soulful is the message of freedom, peace, communal harmony and national integration. Members of the choir are regularly trained by the Madras Youth Choir, which was founded by Sreenivasan himself in 1971. The two groups will perform together at the Senate Hall in Thiruvananthapuram for the first time on August 23 in a programme titled ‘Oru vattam koodi’ in connection with the 20th anniversary of the MBS choir.
“Since he was actively involved in the freedom struggle, Sreenivasan always tried to instil patriotism through his songs. That is why even after foraying into film music, he kept composing album songs in various Indian languages,” Mathew said.
Sreenivasan’s songs were later introduced in schools by the NCERT and the State Education Department. Since 1997, instructors of the MBS Youth Choir have been training school students for the Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations. “The MBS choir is a voluntary organisation dedicated to meaningful music. We have around 270 members aged between 18 and 40 years. In 2004 we also introduced the MBS Children’s Choir. Apart from our weekly practice sessions and performances we are also involved in training students and members of recreational clubs of public sector organisations,” Mathew said.
Minister for Education and Culture M.A. Baby will inaugurate the function. Poet O.N.V. Kurup and film-maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan will also be present.