A screenshot from the video “An Irish Blessings” by the Nagaland Virtual Choir Project. The project bought together 18 Naga musicians with the objective of spreading the joy of music through a ‘virtual choir.’ (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube)
Morung Express News
Dimapur | April 2
As Nagaland, along with the rest of the country, went into a 21-day lockdown as a measure to combat global COVID-19 pandemic, some musicians from the state embarked on a mission.
The mission’s objective was simple yet tricky – to find a way to come together using technology and spread the joy of music through a ‘virtual choir’ during the lockdown.
‘The Nagaland Virtual Choir Project’ (NVCP) released their first video on March 29 with the rendition of “An Irish Blessing” by American composer, James E. Moore Jr on video sharing platform, YouTube.
"In a time when people are confined to their homes, spirits are low and hearts are saddened, this is our humble attempt to bring some light, a ray of hope and to continue sharing the gift of Music,” the NVCP posted on the video’s description.
A brainchild ofof Ni Meruno, a well-known pianist from the state, the project bought together some of the best musicians from the state to share the gift of music.
“Even in this hour of darkness, we have tried to rise above it all; fought our way to let our ART live on,” said Nise, Yamaha Artiste and the director of the project.
A virtual choir is basically an assembly of singers from different locations, coordinating and combining parts of their performances into a single performance.
Not an easy mission
This was not an easy mission though.
Apart from Meruno as the director and Mhonroni Ezung as Conductor and Nourhe Khate as compiler, 18 Naga singers located in Kohima, Dimapur and Delhi did their parts.
“This is our first attempt in a project like this so as a conductor I have to totally rely on my imagination, Mhonroni, who teaches music at Patkai Christian College’s Margaret Shishak School of Music, informed in the introduction of the video.
As the singers were not physically present, blending of all voices, intonation and balance were some of the elements we tried to capture in the video, she informed.
“We are far from perfection, but passion is the key here,” Mhonroni added.
Sharing about how the video was made, Nise had earlier told The Morung Express (Read Here) that after recording his part, Mhonroni had to record conducting an imaginary choir.
Being the first attempt, only 18 of us could come on board and hopefully other talented singers would join in the next projects, he then informed.
Each of the singers then had to record their bits using whatever technology at hand and as they did not have access to good recording devices or studio setup, they had to make do with their mobile devices.
Over the course of three days, the singers recorded their individual parts and sent it for compilation.
“There may be some background noises, slight mismatch in timing, synchronisation issues etc,” Nise admitted, adding that this is their way of keeping it real.
Despite the challenges, however, the singers blended effortlessly giving a ‘ray of hope’ to the viewers/listeners currently under lockdown.
Till the filing of this report, the video has generated nearly 20,000 views and effusive appreciation from the listeners.
“Amazing...such a soul touching endeavour! Thank you for the joy of music and blessing us with this soulful song...” commented one while said, “This is beyond imagination.... everything is too good...”
“Passion is what we need! So wonderful to see this today. Let’s believe in ourselves more and lift each other up always,” added another.
There was a ‘complaint’ though. “The saddest thing about this beautiful piece is that it's very short,” remarked another user, wanting more.
The lyrics of the song, indeed, seems to vividly capture the spirit of the time and struck a chord with the listeners:
“...May the sun make your days bright
May the stars illuminate your nights
May the flowers bloom along your path
Your house stand firm against the storm
And until we meet again, until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”