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About Deepalaya Choral Group

Choral music or group singing had its origins in the Western world, with the Greek and Jewish cultures of the pre-Christian era believed to be where the foundations of this form of music were laid. The Choral traditions were transformed through centuries in various forms, mainly as a form of worship. From around year 1450 AD onwards, the Western music scene saw the emergence of famous classical composers of Choral music like Palestrina, Andrea and Giovanni Gabrielli, J.S. Bach, Beethoven and George Frideric Handel. However, secular Choral singing started in earnest only after 1600 AD, mainly with the coming of Italian operas.

After the Political and Industrial revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries, Choral music evolved to encourage loyalty among various groups and social structures through sponsorships of Choral groups. Choral music also became the ideal medium for nationalistic sentiments, especially in times of war and crises. The Choral Group of world renowned pop singers who came together for a superstar charity recording 'We are the World' (USA for Africa) to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia in 1985, comes to mind among recent famous Choral events on the international popular music stage.

Choral singing in India has been kept alive by the often criticized State organs like All India Radio and Doordarshan, with Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army anthems like 'kadam kadam badhaaye ja' and other patriotic Choral presentations being aired/telecast to reinforce nationalistic feelings. Secular Choral groups like 'Calcutta Youth Choir' and other more religious based ones like the 'Paranjoti Academy Chorus' of Mumbai and our own city's 'Delhi Christian Chorus' and the 'Capital City Minstrels' have helped to carry forward the Choral traditions.

Now we have this unique attempt at a secular, multi-lingual Choral Group from Deepalaya, an NGO that has been more known for its work in the slums of Delhi and in developmental work for the less advantaged sections of society. This Choral group is special in that it comprises children from the less privileged strata of society. The present inaugural concert has around 300 children participating, with the number expected to go up to 700 in the near future.

The architect and driving force behind this huge Choral group of school children is Rtn TK Mathew, the Secretary and Chief Executive, the spirit behind Deepalaya. In fact, Rtn Mathew has been in the forefront of trying to form a sizeable Choral group through various organizations that he is part of and after some sincere but unsuccessful earlier attempts, he has finally been able to fulfill his cherished dream of having a large, multidimensional Choir in the capital city of Delhi.

The Deepalaya Choral Group is being conducted by a relatively young Director, Mr Sunny C Varughese, who also leads one of the prominent Church Choirs of Delhi and has guided his Choir to several trophies in Music Competitions, in addition to conducting the Choir in performances at exclusive events like Rashtrapati Bhavan's Christmas Carol programmes and the YMCA's Festival of Choirs, amongst others.

225 children from marginalized society, but nurtured by Deepalaya, not-so-fluent in foreign languages, showcase how they have developed their latent talents in Choral singing. They have been undergoing rigorous training in Choral singing on a regular basis as part of their curriculum. Despite all odds, they have achieved a certain level of professionalism, which has enabled them to win prizes despite the stiff competition from experienced Choir groups at Kerala Christian Association and St Thomas Marthoma Syrian Church. That they have progressed in the right direction and can hold their own on the stage was amply proved by their participation in Georges Bizet's French Opera 'Carmen', which was produced by the Neemrana Group in association with the Ashok Group at Kamani Auditorium in April 2008.
This indeed reinforces Deepalaya's belief that 'Given a Chance, every Child can become a Star'.