City chorus sings Cradle Song composer’s grave masterpiece

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 27 Maret 2015 | 22.23

BALM FOR THE SOUL: Brahms's Requiem is grim only in name. It serenely says live life to the fullest

MUMBAI: Every night young parents around the world sing Lullaby & Goodnight at the cradle. Few know that the composer of the melody also wrote for the grave. But Brahms was no priest of doom. And though his looks were brooding, he wasn't in particular inclined to gloom.
Thus it is that his biggest work, his requiem, a form that in the hands of most composers continues to be a prayer for the dead, bears the cheerful message that life is brief, make the most of it—or so to speak. On Friday, the city's very own Paranjoti Academy Chorus will present Brahms's 'A German Requiem' in English at the NCPA. It comes about a month and a half after the city staged another great requiem—Verdi's.
The word 'German' in Brahms's title refers to the composer's mother tongue and not to portentous signs or events. The piece comprises seven parts and takes on an average 75 minutes to perform. Some say Brahms wrote it in the memory of his mother, who died in 1865, while others that Schumann's descent into madness, suicide attempt and finally death in 1856 was also a reason. Some dismiss both theories and straightaway tune in to the music.
What is indisputable is that the piece was completed in 1868 and written for chorus, soprano and baritone solos, and orchestra. Brahms also fashioned a piano duet out of the orchestral parts, which scholars say is not merely a pianistic reduction, but a transformed work where the beauty of its intricate choral parts becomes augmented. It's this version that the 43-member Paranjoti choir will perform. The soloists will be Goan soprano Joanne D'Mello and Bangalore baritone Rahul Bhardwaj. The pianists are Canadian Paul Stewart and Mumbai's Parvesh Java.
Rehearsals started in October. "We would rehearse once a week because that's all the time they could spare. Their jobs are very demanding. We work with whatever we have. It's tough," says Coomi Wadia, the choir's conductor for 47 years. From Saturday onwards, marathon rehearsals have been held every evening.
Wadia took up the baton when the choir's founder, conductor-composer Victor Paranjoti, died in 1967. He was a man of many talents and is best remembered for his pioneering work towards integrating Western and Indian music.
This is only the second time in about 50 years that the choir, which sings in Sanskrit, Gujarati and Hindi as well, will perform the Brahms Requiem, which is among the most exalted but not the easiest of Western choral works. It is going to be a venture and also an act of virtue. "We are not paid. I am paid elsewhere, in other choirs, but here it's totally voluntary," says Wadia. "We do it for the love of it."

MELTING POT: The Paranjoti Academy Chorus, in which people of all colours and communities converge, performed Brahms's 'A German Requiem' at the NCPA, Mumbai, on March 27, 2015,upright piano,soprano,Solo,requiem

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