The Kathmandu Chorale's annual spring concert is upon us, and promises to be more diverse than ever.
The ensemble performances are of madrigals, arias, Nepali folk songs, jazz, rock 'n roll, and gospel tunes. The instruments being played include the clarinet, trumpet, French horn, viola, double bass, piano, keyboard, violin, flute, and madal. The chorus is a culturally diverse group of Nepalis, expats, musicians, amateurs, missionaries, and students-all there for the love of music, and to raise money for a worthy cause.
Bryan Varenkamp, a Texas linguist who has been residing on and off in Nepal since 1985 and conducting the chorus for the past five years, says this performance will be a lot more "colourful" than last year's winter concert. "We have an ensemble of music spanning many eras, from the 1300s to songs that were popular two years ago," he explains. "We will also perform a medley of songs from The Phantom of the Opera."
The challenge in song selection is that, historically, choral singing is so closely associated with the church, which is not a connection the chorale necessarily wants to push. They try therefore to choose secular music that everyone will be interested in.
Varenkamp says the variety of music is also a reflection of the diversity of the singers-some are full-fledged musicians while others cannot read music. Suman Chitrakar, who was introduced to the chorale by his music teacher at Kathmandu University, says it's a great chance to explore and develop his talent. "I'm really learning to use my vocal chords," he says.
The Kathmandu Chorale, which turns 15 this year, was started by American native Kareen Messerschmidt, who wanted to share her passion for music-for a charitable purpose. "The Kathmandu Chorale from its early years has always been about giving back," she says.
Last year the chorale attracted 800 listeners and raised Rs 110,000 through donations. This year, the two organisations that will receive donations are the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre and Namaste Children Nepal, which provides orphans and other children food, education, and healthcare.
The Kathmandu Chorale Spring Concert is on 19 May at 3.30 PM and 6 PM at The British School Auditorium in Jhamsikhel, Patan. Admission is free but donations are welcome. For more information contact Bryan Varenkamp at 9841218610.