Music

1000 voices celebrate Tagore

The Chennai team. Photo: Special Arrangement  

A chorus of adulating silken voices floated through the rehearsal venue, a quiet apartment in a Chennai suburb. “ Joyo thobo bichithro anandho hey kobi,” (“The joy that you have given us is multifarious; hail to thy mercy, Great Poet”) the group sang in Bengali in praise of Rabindranath Tagore.

This Chennai group makes its way to Kolkata for the “1000 Voices Rabindra Sangeet Choir.” The organisation, Bharati Muktadhara, puts together the 1000 voices encomium to Tagore, the bearded bard who reshaped Bengali literature, music and Indian art with contextual modernism. It is a tribute to 100 years of Gitanjali and its profoundly fresh beautiful verse.

Years ago, travelling abroad, Tagore witnessed western classical music concerts featuring musicians numbering 1000 to 2000. This left a lasting impression on him, observers had said. Nevertheless, Tagore had not voiced his latent desire - to give a similar treatment to his compositions.

“The programme titled ‘Echoes of Gitanjali’ commemorates 100 years of Tagore’s English Gitanjali,” said the 60-something-Arundhati Deb, who has been travelling from city to city refining the performances of the different groups. She was in Chennai giving finishing touches to the group’s presentation. She has conceived, scripted, and directed the “1000 Voices Rabindra Sangeet Choir.”

Usha Uthup will anchor the programme, reveals this organiser.

The Chennai team has singer Swati Bhattacharya leading 12 singers to join the celebration at Kolkata Netaji Indoor Stadium on July 5.

Singing will intersperse recitation from the English Gitanjali even as English translations of the verses sung are projected for the benefit of non-Bengalis. Non-Bengalis are welcome to attend the programme, stressed the organiser and founder of Bharati Muktadhara.

Arundhati Deb garnered passionate singers from Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Vadodhara, Patna, Allahabad, Kanpur (this is a group of IIT professors), and Bhilai, to name a few. Yet, sponsors did not respond.

Hailing from a family deeply interested in music, Arundhati Deb grew up fascinated with Rabindra Sangeet. After a Master’s Degree in English and an editing stint, her desire to do some serious work with Tagore surfaced. The result? The first 1000 Voices Choir in 2007.

(The author, a professor of journalism at California State University in Los Angeles, now a Chennai resident, is also a vocalist.)

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 3:23:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/1000-voices-bengali-choir-celebrate-100-years-of-tagores-gitanjali/article7382975.ece

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