A Little Christmas Jazz
07th December 2018, 06:08 Hrs
Stuti Choral Ensemble has a surprise coming your way, this December. While Mozart’s works will continue to hold a special place in their repertoire, as will popular Konkani Christmas carols in all their four-voice glory, Stuti will bring to the Goan stage Bob Chilcott’s A Little Jazz Mass.
“I hope that the audience is able to appreciate that sacred music doesn’t have to belong to the past, but can be current and, in some cases, extremely progressive,” says Parvesh Java, Classical pianist and music conductor. “There is this idea that sacred music needs to have a stillness, but one must realize that the fundamental point of making music is to reach people, and their ears are not stuck in the past!”
With this in mind, Stuti gears up to celebrate this genre of music that first took form within the African-American community of the United States of America. Jazz has come a long way from its humble beginnings in an era of slavery and subjugation, to take the world stage by storm. And today, even sacred music makes an association with this style that is growing in popularity. “The text of the Latin Mass Ordinary comes alive through the jazz paradigm. The catchy tunes and rhythms make for a communal celebration,” Java adds.
The Stuti Choral Emsemble is the brainchild of Fr Eufemiano Miranda, as much a man of choral music, as a man of God. “I am very happy that this initiative that I took, way back in 2009, with a view to preserving the choral music tradition in Goa, has grown,” he says. “It’s not my effort; it’s common effort. And this effort could only bear fruit, because people with high musical education have associated themselves with us. As such, the choir has acquired this stature, this quality.”
Alto singer Catherine D’Souza will be conducting for the first time in Goa. “Being a violin teacher, this brings out a different aspect of my musical talent. I am grateful to Parvesh Java for giving me this opportunity,” she expresses.
Jason Quadros, whose jazz piano playing is described as “an absolute thrill!” by Java, will don the hat of conductor and singer as well. “As we challenge ourselves to perform these lovely choral works, we begin to grow in musical maturity, and thus, have a better understanding of the music,” he says. But there’s more to it, for Jason. “Performing such pieces keeps us interested and having fun.”
The young and the young at heart pool their talent together in this choir comprising more than 30 members, most of them professionals in fields other than music, who spend time together purely for the love of music. Notably, this time, four of the members will wield the conductor’s baton. “It’s wonderful to have young people take the stage as conductors, and take responsibility,” says Java, himself a young conductor.
Java, from Bombay, has received a Bachelor of Music degree at the Chicago College of Performing arts. For the love of producing music, he frequently travels to Goa. “I love my life in Goa, mainly because I like the option of having space. And I really believe that the more space you have, somehow, in an almost Einsteinian way, the more time you have. I think that the time and space, coupled with a constant interaction with nature, really make you feel settled and hence organically productive,” he elaborates.
Last year in December, Stuti was invited to give two performances in the Udupi district of Karnataka, where they were very well-received. The Konkani carols included the Mangalorean “Rakhun Ravlam Somia’, and the result was a fusion of trills typical of Indian music with the choir’s signature Western Classical style of singing.
This December, Stuti is set to enthral audiences right here at home, in various parts of Goa. “Culture should not be elitist,” Fr Miranda asserts. “It is not only in the capital that we choose to perform. Culture should go towards the people. We would also like to take our music to other parts of Goa, where it is convenient for people to reach us.” The repertoire includes prominent Yuletide hymns in Konkani, rendered in choral style, some of them arranged by long-standing member of Stuti and eminent Goan musician, Antonio Vas.
Stuti Choral Ensemble will perform on Friday, December 7 at Holy Family Church, Porvorim; on Thursday, December 13 at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, Panaji; and on Friday, December 14 at Holy Spirit Church, Margão. All shows will begin at 7 pm.