Every December, a shower of concerts rain down on Chennai’s enthusiasts, and every year, like the one before - beautiful voices sing the traditional carols one was brought up listening to old Jim Reeves audio tapes. But this time around, it seems the first of the season will feature the same century-old carols of yore, with a change in the usual choir-centric approach. The Madras Guitar Ensemble is gearing up for their concert on Saturday, titled simply, ‘A Christmas Concert’.
Sixteen guitars will take the spotlight, while the voices take a back seat. Says Thangadurai Samuel, founder of the Madras Guitar Ensemble, “It’s quite a rare concept for India, very different from the usual choir of singers that most people are used to.” However, the guitarists will also be accompanied by instrumentalists on the cello, mandolin, flute and four vocalists.
Perhaps the biggest challenge was searching for carol musical arrangements with the guitar, explains the veteran musician. Apparently, despite much searching, none were found at all. As a result, Samuel took it upon himself to come up with original instrumental arrangements for each piece. “Each rendition of ours has the focus on the strings,” he promises. As for those apprehensive of the missing grand piano for that authentic X’mas chime on each note, Samuel assures us, “The music blend of this orchestra will be as grand as ever.”
So how does a solemn Silent Night turn out, in an orchestra heavy with nylon strings? Honestly, it is difficult to imagine. But one will have to wait for the show and listen to this dapper troupe of gentlemen pick up their classical guitars to know for sure. It’s a new whiff (riff) of X’mas altogether. And if you’re a purist for the church organs of decades past, ‘fret’ not. You may want to leave that part to the gentlemen on their guitars.
(The concert will be held at the Museum Theatre on December 8 at 7pm. For details, contact 9840838286.)