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Shillong Chamber Choir is an Indian group of chamber singers based in Shillong in Meghalaya, a city known for its close association wit rock music and often called the “rock capital of India”. The Chamber Choir won the reality talent show “India’s Got Talent” on Colors TV in October 2010.
Shillong Chamber Choir was founded in 2001. It performs western chorals, as well as choral style revamps of Hindi film classics. There are 25 members, including 15 singers, musicians and soloist. The repertoire includes works of Western classical music, including Handel, Bach, Gershwin and Mozart from hits by rock group “Queen” and Khasi folk songs and opera.
The crew is immensely popular in Northeast India. Their fame skyrocketed when they took part in “India’s Got Talent” and won the reality talent show and when they were called to perform during the Obama visit in India.
Neil Nongkynirh is the founder and mentor of the choir. He is fondly called “Uncle Neil” by the band members. He studied Western classical at the Guild Hall Music School and Trinity College of Music, London. He worked as a concert pianist for 13 years in Europe. He never wanted to return back to India. However, a holiday in hometown Shillong changed his perspective. He could see the reservoir of talent left untapped. Neil utilized the power of music for a cause- to uplift the differently abled children near his home. He put together a band consisting of students with music in their hearts who sang the pop numbers of Queen and the remixed Bollywood numbers.
The Shillong Chamber Choir made its debut performance at the Pinewood Hotel in Shillong on 14th and 15th January 2001. Neil Nongkynirh was the conductor. They continued performing ever since. The group ha performed in Britain, Poland, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, and Italy. In India it has performed in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, and Guwahati. At the 2nd World Choir Games in South Korea in 2002 it won a silver diploma in the folklore category.
“The Shillong Chamber Choir” is a short film directed by Bollywood scriptwriter Urmi Juvekar. It was sponsored by the Government of India. It has performed with the visiting Vienna Chamber Orchestra in March 2009 at Shillong and Kolkata. It was invited to perform in Sri Lanka.
In July 2010 the ICCR selected the choir for a ministry of Development of North Eastern region sponsored trip to participate at the 6th world Choir games held at Shaoxing in China in July 2010. It was the only Indian group at that time to participate in the event.
In 2010 it participated in reality talent show “India’s got talent” on Colors TV. Union Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma appealed to the people of the northeast to vote for the group in the finals. It won the second season of the reality show that year.
The group has performed at the Rashtrapati Bhavan at the invitation of former President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2002. It has performed at President Pratibha Patil’s presidential banquet at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, for President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama during their 2010 visit to India. It has participated in the 6th world Choir games held at Shaoxing, China in July 2010. It was awarded with gold diplomas in all the three categories- Musica Sacra, gospel and popular.
In 2011 they performed with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra in Shillong. In 2011 they collaborated with Shankar Ehsan and Loy at the second Global Indian Music Awards. Recently they have composed and sung for Malayalam movie “Goodbye December”.