Kohima: Amid the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, various Naga artistes led by prominent musician Nise Meruno launched the first-ever ‘Nagaland Virtual Choir’ to send a message of hope to people around the world. Singing ‘An Irish blessing’, the video of the choir which took three days to record and two days to edit, surfaced online on Sunday garnering nearly 18,000 views online.
Speaking with EastMojo, prominent Yamaha artiste Meruno said that 18 Naga artistes from across the country lent their voices to send hope and comfort to people in this dark time, battling against the spread of the deadly coronavirus. “Music is healing and music is hope. So, what better way to let our voices be heard and then spread a little bit of happiness to the people who hears us,” Meruno said.
While the idea of a virtual choir always fascinated Meruno, he said that the lockdown has given an opportunity for all working musicians to stay at home, thereby making the project a reality. Emphasizing on how the lockdown could also affect the active musicians emotionally and financially, he said that the project has also given hope to musicians to utilise their time and talent wisely and purposefully. “It is also an opportunity for us as musicians to let our art live on,” said Meruno.
He said that the videos were recorded on mobile phones as they had no access to any sophisticated recording equipment. “I think this made the project really honest and relevant for people to connect with us and to also show them how we can turn the present situation into something productive,” he added.
Although the virtual choir was executed with limited resources, Meruno said that the bigger challenge was the musical aspect as each artiste had to imagine the song and sing their parts (in voices) without knowing what the final outcome will sound like. He expressed that the team comprising of classically trained artists handled the project dedicatedly and since the release of the video, has been receiving response from professional musicians from various parts of the world, further encouraging and motivating them.
When asked about the future plans of the Nagaland virtual choir, Meruno said that during this lockdown period, another song will likely be released, although the team is yet to plan out its next move. “We have chosen a song for the first release, but this time, we want to know what our listeners want to hear from us,” he said, adding that people also suggested for Naga folk-fusion songs.
Looking forward, he said that he wishes to continue Nagaland virtual choir even after the lockdown period and maybe someday bring all virtual artistes to one platform in reality for people to listen and see them perform. But while these full time musicians join hands to present virtual choir for listeners, one can also extend support to the musicians by reaching out to them through their YouTube channel or through their personal social media handles.
Amid the closure of churches, Meruno has also started an online fellowship on his Instagram page on Sunday giving an opportunity for people at home to come and worship together. While the next fellowship service will be held at 11 am coming Sunday on his page, with contentment in his tone, Meruno expressed how gratifying it is for people to unite and worship together during this dark time of the global health crisis. He added that a special offering session was also held during the online worship, for the privileged people to offer a little help to those in need.
Meanwhile, appealing people to support the project, he hoped that the virtual choir becomes a driving force for people to live on and hope that better days are coming. He also hoped that after the lockdown, more Naga artists could join the choir and to further sow the seeds of oneness through music.