CHENNAI : I want to become a world famous singer and make my family, mentors and my country proud,” says a 15-year-old K Muthuselvan from the choir, whose father works as a bakery salesman. Muthuselvan is one of the many artistes of the Chennai Children Choir (CCC), an initiative of Nalandaway Foundation, which presents opportunities to children from disadvantaged communities. Almost two years after their maiden performance at the Urur Olcott Kuppam Vizha, the choir, which has been creating ripples across the city, has now been invited to participate at ‘The Serenade, Choral Festival’ in Washington DC.
It is the only summer festival of its kind in the US, which features professional and community choirs with a distinctly foreign flavour. “It is a proud moment for us to be the only choir to represent the country, and perform at the famous Kennedy Center,” shares Manjula Ponnapalli, director of CCC. Manjula, along with fellow artistic director Vedanth Bharathwaj has been mentoring the troupe for the last three years.
While the whole group is enthused about the invitation, the funds to get the 23-member ensemble and the conductors to their destination looks difficult. To make impossible, possible, the foundation has flagged a crowdfunding campaign in Ketto, to send the choir to Washington DC.
The goal is to raise `33 lakh, for travel, accommodation, food and local transport. “We have been able to raise about `6,00,000 so far. The package costs a lot and all these children are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Some are visually challenged and some have special needs. We are looking for donors who will make their dreams come to true,” shares Manjula.While the original choir strength is forty, 23 children were selected based on their skill and ability to adapt. “We are planning to perform a variety of songs in different languages about unity and spirit of harmony. The rehearsals will begin soon,” she says.
Samaya Aishwarya, a class 9 student was declared visually challenged when she was just a couple of months old. Geeta, her mother, recalls that they never thought she would have the confidence to perform on stage, before enrolling in the choir. “Though she learnt carnatic music she always had stage fear. Becoming a part of the choir changed her life. She discovered herself and learned to play instruments like keyboard and parai. We never thought that our daughter would get such an opportunity and we are thankful to everyone who believed in her,” she tears up. Samaya quickly adds, “I have never ever left Chennai and I am excited about this. I want to take our music there and I am looking forward to making new friends too!”
For Mahalakshmi Sudhakar, another 15-year-old, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. “My father is a mechanic and this is something we wouldn’t even have dreamt of. My parents are happy that I will be living my dreams,” she says enthusiastically.
The Serenade Choral festival is scheduled between June 24 and July 5. To donate, visit: https://www.ketto.org/fundraiser/ccc2us or call: 43500127