Manish Rohit Ekka (third from left) with his troupe near Christ Church in Ranchi on Wednesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
A student of carols and rocks — not rock ‘n’ roll, mind you, but the kind buried inside the earth — is a rare specimen.
Meet Ranchi’s Manish Rohit Ekka (30). He has an MSc in geology, but his claim to fame is his certificate from Music Hochschule für Kirchenmusik (literally, high school of church music), Dresden, Germany.
The expert in church music is now busy preparing a 15-member group to sing carols at a presentation in Gossner Theological Hall, Christ Church.
The first performance will be on December 16, while Ekka will lead the choir at Christ Church on Christmas eve and on the D-Day. This is his first public presentation after getting the German certificate.
Ekka, who stays at Seramtoli near Gossner College, says he pursued his German course in church music from 2009 to 2011. Ten months ago, the central council office of GEL Church appointed him as music tutor for its schools and colleges.
“My German course was on traditional church music. I can also play the pipe organ and piano. Right now, I am tutoring boys and girls original notes of Christmas carols,” Ekka told The Telegraph.
“Music plays a big role during services in church. Lent, Advent, Christmas, Easter and others need exclusive melodies,” he added.
According to Ekka, carols like Silent night, holy night, Hark! the herald, the angels sing as well as hymns like Gloria in excelsis deo (Latin for glory to god in the highest), their translations in Hindi and local dialects, need to be taught in original notes.
The historic Christ Church in Ranchi also has a pipe organ “over 150 year old”, enthused Ekka. “It is my privilege that I will play this instrument during Christmas,” he said.
Interestingly, only two persons in the city can play the huge, traditional instrument. One is Ekka. The other is Isaac Kandulna, a student at Ram Tahal Choudhary BEd College.
Though Ekka received his training in one of Europe’s specialised musical schools, he hasn’t forgotten his roots.
The youth who can wax eloquent about the pipe organ is equally eager about tribal musical instruments, particularly mandar. “It is made of mud and the sound it produces resonates well with hymns. It is my duty to make good use of traditional instruments in church services,” he said, proving Kipling’s quip about east and west wrong.