An ode to the Messiah | india | Hindustan Times
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An ode to the Messiah

Unheeding of repeated warnings to not visit India on grounds of security, soloists Sarah Pillow, Patricia Green, Robert Bracey and Andrew Wentzel are in the city to perform a concert on George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, reports Purva Mehra.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2009 00:59 IST
Purva Mehra

Unheeding of repeated warnings to not visit India on grounds of security, soloists Sarah Pillow, Patricia Green, Robert Bracey and Andrew Wentzel are in the city to perform a concert on George Frideric Handel’s Messiah.

Taken aback that Mumbai would know of Handel and tailor a concert to mark his 250th death anniversary, the artistes were compelled to visit. “When I received an e-mail invite to perform Messiah in India, neither my colleagues nor I could believe there would be an audience for Handel there. It’s quite incredible,” said tenor Bracey.

This production has been the pet project of The Paranjoti Academy Chorus, a choral group of repute performing in Mumbai since 1961.

For group conductor Coomi Wadia, Messiah served an opportunity to attract people to the choir as they are always looking for singers. “Even though the choir is 72 people strong, the singers are always in flux. Hopefully this grand performance will take care of that,” said Wadia.

The oratorio is the German born Baroque composer’s most popular composition, which is a presentation of Jesus Christ’s life, conceived for secular theatre.

“It is the story of Jesus in Handel’s music with the chorus as the star,” explained Canadian mezzo-soprano Green.

And at the centre is the Paranjoti choir, which comprises working professionals who are passionate about singing. “We do not get paid for singing. But we have represented India in many choral competitions internationally and were the premiere group to perform in Europe in 1961 under the aegis of Dr Victor Paranjoti, the founder,” Wadia shared.

The a capella choir boasts of a vast repertoire ranging from 16th century music to works by contemporary composers and spiritual and folk songs.

“There is certainly an audience for Messiah in Mumbai and it is commonly sung in churches here. In fact it’s promising that besides Parsis and Catholics people of other communities are turning to Western music. Hopefully this concert will send out the message the Indians can also perform Western classics,” Wadia said.

(Messiah will be staged on January 17 and 18 at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point at 7 pm. Tickets will be available at the venue)