There’s a new choir in town and despite there existing a choir in every nook and corner across Goa, this group - a fairly new venture, has started making waves across the state.
And while choirs usually enjoy a limited audience, ‘Aradhon’ has managed to captivate people, and it wasn’t so much based on who the choir members are but rather the quality of their music to the neutral ear. Like the movie Sister Act, their melodious acoustic treatment of traditional songs touched a chord with people from all walks of life.
Aradhon is essentially the coming together of a group of very talented singers and musicians, each accomplished in his or her own right. The group consists of Omar De Loiola Pereira (Musical Director, Guitarist, Baritone), Fleur Dias (Soprano), Anushka Coutinho (Soprano), Heidi Loiola Pereira (Alto), Nisha Carvalho Costa (Alto), Ravi Carvalho (Tenor), Dylan Carvalho (Tenor, Guitarist) and Gino Collaco (Keyboardist)
It’s also the spiritual successor of Juventus, a youth choir led by Omar in the 1990s. Juventus was a youth group which was essentially a bunch of friends getting together. However, it soon garnered a lot of popularity, it became one of the most popular choirs of its time in Goa for weddings. But apart from that, Juventus also did other shows like corporate events, cultural events, private events, etc. It staged 3 productions that included all kinds of music, both sacred and popular. Even today, 20 years after it disbanded, people still recall Juventus very vivdly and the music it performed then.
Omar has always loved choral music and arranging for choirs. That was the reason behind Juventus being formed. So it was only natural that forming a choir would top his musical priority list. He was pleasantly surprised to find on his return to Goa, that this space had grown immensely with a whole variety of good choirs. And given that some of the members of Aradhon were also members of Juventus, perhaps, made it easier for Aradhon to break into what is a very crowded space. Another reason perhaps is that the emphasis in Aradhon is on voices rather than instruments.
“Aradhon is dedicated to sacred music. Given how relatively new it is, although we have our repertoire, at the moment it is primarily in English religious music. However, we are also in the process of developing our Konkani repertoire,” said Omar.
When asked if he was surprised by the response a video of one of their songs posted on his YouTube channel received, he stated that the group was very humbled by the response they have received. The video of the song ‘Pav Maie’, crossed 80 thousand views, was shared over 1400 times and this was within the first week itself. “It was beyond what we ever imagined. We had a lot of very encouraging feedback to our singing where people have heard us so far. We could never have foreseen such an incredible response. But as fantastic as it is, it now places an enormous challenge and sense of responsibility to keep this going and to keep doing better,” said Omar. He added that at this stage, they have not put together any new videos other than the existing ones, but given the phenomenal response they got to these videos, they do intend to put up more as soon as possible. While their performances for now have been mainly at Masses, their long term plan is to dig deeper in sacred music, with a special place for Goan Christian music, and find opportunities to perform and make this music known to wider audiences. At present, the group meets once or twice a week but there have been times, when they have met even everyday. Over deliberations about what forms their identity, the group spoke about what they do and felt the audience would be the best judge. “The role of a choir in the Church is to guide/lead the congregation in singing. So what we try to do, specially with Konkani hymns, is to keep the main melody intact so that it is easy for the congregation to connect and sing along. However, we then come up with a vocal arrangement around it try to be creative. And this, in a way, changes the perspective of the hymn. In regards to the accompanying musical instruments, we try to keep it as simple as possible. We have one or two guitars, and sometimes a keyboard. We have done a lot with just the voices and one guitar, as the emphasis is always on the voices rather than on the instruments. The instruments only serve as a backing to the voices,” said Omar.
He further remarked that Konkani hymns that are sung in our Churches are incredibly rich in their musicality and in that vein, he added that along with their English repertoire,they intend to devote a lot of time to Konkani spiritual music. Also on their long term plan, among their many goals, is to record an original album but that is something that they plan to work on little further down the track .