Dr Graham’s Homes choir at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Picture by Arnab Mondal
The city came alive with the sound of music from the hills this weekend as Dr Graham’s Homes School Choir kept its annual tryst for the 12th winter.
St. Paul’s Cathedral, the first venue of the Rising Stars in Concert, presented by Dr Graham’s Homes, in association with Tollygunge Club and The Telegraph, reverberated with the voices of the 65-member choir from Kalimpong heralding the Christmas season on Friday.
The church performance was classical in tone and mood and the choir restricted itself to Christmas carols and chorals, reserving its less traditional repertoire for a “pop concert” at La Martiniere for Boys on Sunday.
Such traditional favourites as Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and O Come All Ye Faithful had the audience bursting into a long and loud round of applause, accompanied by a standing ovation. “It was an amazing performance. The way they harmonised, they sounded like professionals, not schoolchildren,” said Sujata Goswami, a retired teacher.
Some of the songs had the likes of Madhuri Dutt, 86, humming along. “I am a music lover. I have seen them perform every year, and they just get better every year,” said Madhuri, who came with sister Purnima Roy, 88, a member of the parish since 1946. Both looked forward to coming back next year.
The choir members, for whom the opportunity to perform in Calcutta is like a “dream come true”, couldn’t have asked for more. “This was my first performance in Calcutta and the crowd was very encouraging. My friends who have sung here before had shared their experience and I was really excited to have made it here,” said Lhamo Bhutia, a Class XI student.
The city of joy holds a special place in choirmaster Shane William Saviel’s heart. “It was from here that we started our journey. We owe all the love and popularity to the Calcutta audience who have supported us so much,” he said.
That the choir’s popularity cuts across all ages was evident by the presence of a visibly younger crowd at Atmodaya Bhavan, the auditorium at La Martiniere for Boys, where the choir came up with a mixed bag of contemporary and pop tunes from Westlife, Boyzone and Evanescence to Elton John and Mariah Carey. The choir’s rendition of popular numbers from The Lion King had the crowd roaring.
“This is the third time I heard them. Last time, it was more of carols, but this time I really enjoyed their pop performance,” said Nikhil Kumar Dutt, a Class X student at La Martiniere for Boys.
Principal Sunirmal Chakravarthi’s favourite was Hail Holy Queen from Sister Act I. “It was an enjoyable evening. They had more of solos and duets this time and I wish they had involved the choir more, like they did for the song Hail Holy Queen from Sister Act I that came out superbly. We at La Martiniere are always ready to welcome them back.”