The ABBA Choir!

No sooner do I write about ‘living in a fugue’, the Universe conspires to lift up my mood. Almost like a divine response to my SOS 😉

My friend M had passes to a music concert for Monday evening (her daughter was playing the piano and singing with the choir), and although she asked me to go on Friday, I couldn’t confirm until Monday morning, life being what it is. When I got up Monday morning, my head was heavy and still spinning from the after-effects of another full week & busy weekend, with no alone time. I desperately needed to get away from it all. What better way than music right? Thanks M – I owe you one 😀

Had a busy morning meeting with the printer, making changes to the Bulletin that I’m editing for our Pediatrics Association (not my preferred way of beginning the week!). Then picked Ishaan up from school and by the time I had lunch and put him down for his nap, it was time to leave for the concert. Whether you believe it or not…I’m convinced Time is flying even faster than it normally does…it’s being a pain! Finally, we were on our way to Margao. It’s an hour-long drive and at last I felt myself begin to unwind. I think I might have given M a headache with my chatter…Sorry M 😛 Just blame it on your great company 🙂 We were early and had time for a leisurely coffee before making our way to the venue.

The concert showcased the NAMAH Chorale, a 35-member a cappella choir (singing sans instruments). NAMAH, is conducted by Dr. Christo Fernandes, a diminutive man of enormous talent who is the driving force behind another group – the Choir of  The Goa Institute of Management, where he teaches Human Resource Management. As I said…a man of many talents! The singers come from different backgrounds (students and senior citizens, local & international talent are all welcome!), and most have little if any musical training! As Christo mentioned yesterday, NAMAH started as an experiment. An attempt to see whether people from different walks of life and no musical background, could make music together. Needless to say…they can & how! I have attended their concerts before and they are brilliant 🙂 Another thing I love about NAMAH is their innovation…they sing hymns, but they sing Pop as well and while that may not appeal to purists, I think it’s wonderful! Music is Music and that’s that! This concert was called ‘Thank You for the Music’ and was dedicated to ABBA, which made it very special for me coz I’m a complete ABBA junkie 🙂 And to add to the cool factor, all proceeds were donated to charity. Three schools received musical instruments and books to help their under-privileged students discover the musician within! What could be better?

Maxie Miranda, who plays the guitar, opened the concert with a couple of Brazilian songs, sung in his trademark accent. He was followed by a dance performance – a fusion piece with two dancers performing in different styles, contemporary and Bharatnatyam, a classical Indian dance form. They were followed by the Goa Institute of Management Choir, which started with a hymn and ended with a popular Bollywood number sung in Choir style! They had all of us clapping and clicking our fingers to the music! They were followed by the famous local band, Alcatrazz that enthralled with ABBA numbers. Their lead singer Sandra, has a wonderful husky voice tailor-made for ABBA songs and when she launched into Mama Mia…I could hardly stay put in my seat 😛

They also sang ‘Does Your Mother Know’, ‘Voulez-vous’ & ‘Waterloo’ J Finally it was time for NAMAH to take center stage and they had us enthralled from the start. They sang the famous Tagore poem, ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear’, and followed it up with a fabulous rendition of the patriotic Vande Mataram, a song that never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

Then on to a tribute to Boney M with One Way Ticket, to the Beatles with ‘Yesterday’ (another favorite), and then, it was ABBA time again! Money, Money and I Have a Dream and for a grand finale, Thank You for the Music. The songs make me nostalgic and remind me how awesomely talented ABBA were. I know the lyrics to every song and they take me back to a time when I was young (oh so young!), and carefree! Happy Times! So if you’re reading this and are not an ABBA fan…keep it to yourself 😛 If you are…share your favorites!

It was a wonderfully, uplifting evening 🙂 A much-needed energy boost to begin the week with! As is wont in Goa, we ran into friends…an old school friend and a medical school classmate…both after more than a decade, both wonderfully warm & essentially unchanged 🙂 Don’t you just love it when that happens? J We went backstage to meet with Christo and the others and by the time I got home it was 10.30 pm. The house was asleep except for Mom, who was up (of course!), and had dinner waiting 🙂

It was rather Perfect! I felt happy & pampered and peaceful. Amen 🙂

3 Songs for Freedom

Rather like 3 coins in the fountain! Indians and music go way back…and given our history, it isn’t surprising that we have a host of emotional songs to stir up those good old patriotic feelings, pay tribute to our martyrs and express our love for our country. Why stop at one when you can have a thousand, eh? 🙂 Hey! I’m not complaining! In recent years, a lot of the old songs have been remixed and reincarnated in new avatars, presumably to attract the youth, who necessarily do not identify with India’s freedom struggle, the way old-timers do. Being born in a free country, it is hard for them to identify with the ignominy of British occupation and the horror of Partition.

I was born a good 3 decades after India won her freedom and it’s the same for me. I respect the struggle and am touched by the countless tragedies suffered by those who fought for their country, but much of it remains remote – stories from long ago that I read in school text-books or saw in fuzzy B &W movies! I never bothered with the National Anthem after I left school. However, recently I’ve had occasion to hear it played frequently at International sports events, when a modern hero has done his country proud, and before every movie in cinema halls! I have come to love it afresh – the soulful lyrics & the simple yet powerful melody, bring tears to my eyes every time! (Maybe it’s ‘coz I’m older and am going soft!) I recognize the genius of the Nobel laureate Rabrindanath Tagore who composed it and I doff my hat to him and country, both.

Here is a little gem I found on Youtube, the anthem, recited in Tagore’s own voice!

Here is a more contemporary version, by A. R. Rehman and India’s foremost musical artistes – Soul-stirring!

This is the original composition of the song Vande Mataram (India’s National Song), in Sanskrit, from the movie Anand Muth.

And this is another revival by A. R. Rehman. Superbly done as always!

This is another song that I love and was quite the rage when first released 🙂 It speaks of national pride and unity in diversity, staples of freedom songs in India! I love that it has music from all corners of India…that’s true integration 🙂

And finally, my absolute favorite patriotic song of all time. A tribute to the martyrs of India (and Heaven knows She’s had more than her share!), this song brought tears to Pandit Nehru’s eyes, when he first heard it in 1962, and never fails to do the same to me. Music by C. Ramchandra and lyrics by Kavi Pradeep. Sung fittingly by Lata Mangeshkar, India’s own  ‘Nightingale.’

Alrite, I know, that’s 4 songs, but who’s counting! There are many more songs that I love, but that’s another post, another time!

Meanwhile…’Jo shahid huye hai unki zara yaad karo kurbani‘…

Jai Hind!