BY MATHEW ALMEIDA
Goa has a long tradition of music but it was missing a choir. In 2002, Fr Eufemiano Miranda stepped in and founded the String Ensemble and later the Stuti Choral Ensemble that has performed at various festivals, even beyond Goa. This week Stuti will be presenting the full Brahm’s Requiem at three different places. Fr Eufemiano Miranda spoke to Gomantak Times Digital on how he revived the tradition of choral ensemble in Goa.
How was the Stuti Choir started? What inspired you to form the choir?
In the year 2002, a choir from Royal college of Music, London had come here and performed at St Francis of Assisi church, Old Goa. After the performance, I was invited for a dinner as I was member of the Christian Art Museum. There I met one of the prominent members of that choir; he must have been the director, if I am not mistaken. I appreciated him for the wonderful performance and he asked me, “Goa has a tradition of music right?
Is there a functioning choir or any choral ensemble that performs in Goa?” When he asked me that question, I was little embarrassed to tell him that we did not have any such choir at that time. The Rachol Seminary had a TTBB choir but that was mostly to sing Gregorian chants or hymns in the seminary. That really impacted me. I was deeply hurt because in spite of having a long tradition in music we did not have a choir and it brought down my Goan pride.
At that time there was this Conductor Nigel Dixon in Goa who was teaching in Kala Academy. He was keen on starting a choir here in Goa and since he was a good friend of mine, we called people from across Goa and formed a choir and presented “The Messiah” by Handel at Kala Academy. But soon after that the choir people went back to their normal life. He then decided to form a permanent choir and asked my help to gather people.
So we formed a Goa string Ensemble but Dixon could not continue for too long in Goa since he was a British national and had to go back. My niece then approached me and asked if we could have a choral ensemble. She called her friends and some people from the parish I was working in. And we called it Stuti Choral Ensemble. Now we were looking for someone to conduct the choir. I asked Mr Costa from Margao to conduct the choir for around two years, then Mr Calisto Vaz and so on. Some of the members from the original group are with us till today.
Right now Mr Parvesh Java is conducting the choir and has been doing wonderfully well. How did you meet Mr Parvesh?
In 2014, there was this group of singers with a wonderful conductor called Patricia Rosario who taught at the Royal School of Music London. They had come to Kala Academy with an orchestra. I had a friend who was part of the orchestra namely Carla Lechmere who was of Goan origin based in London. I requested her to play with our string ensemble and she was very happy.
We needed a conductor, so I told her I will arrange the conductor. At that time there was Mr. Victor Rangel Ribeiro who was hailing from Porvorim but was living in America. I was very confident that he would be ready to come. At that time Ashvita Menezes, who is the leader of our orchestra, was also in Goa and she told me that someone called Parvesh Java from Patricia’s orchestra wanted to meet me. We were waiting for him and Ashvita said “There is Parvesh.”
I saw a young man with short pants and bottle of water, simply dressed. Usually we have an image of a conductor dressed with long trousers and so on. So there we met for the first time and discussed and he expressed that he wanted to conduct the choir. This how Parvesh Java, from 2014 or 2015 has been conducting the choir and orchestra and doing a wonderful job.
How do you view the growth of this choir that had a simple beginning with ups and downs and achieved so much?
Stuti Choral Ensemble has performed many times at the Monte Music Festival and Ketevan Music festival, Christmas carol concerts and also performed outside Goa. People do recognise the choir and yes it has grown to be Goa’s biggest choir with around 100 singers now.
In the month of October this year the Stuti choir will perform Brahm’s Requiem, the full composition. Why Brahm? What defines its uniqueness?
Well, we had performed Brahm’s Requiem earlier but that was only a part of the full composition. This year Parvesh said to me, “Let’s do the full Brahm’s Requiem.” I was stunned and surprise and asked him if it will be possible. We needed more singers as well. He confidently said, “yes we will do it. Don’t worry.”
He auditioned for new singers, had sessions with them individually, worked hard on the composition translated from German to English, dedicatedly held practices and made sure that those in the choir attended practices regularly. Parvesh and the choir along with the orchestra have worked hard for around six months. I wish that a lot of people attend the concerts which will be held at various places in Goa from October 11 to 15, 2023.
Wednesday October 11, 7:00 pm (Concert)
Saviour of the World Church, Loutolim, South Goa.
Thursday, October 12, 7:00 pm (Public Rehearsal)
Museum of Christian Art
Chapel of Santa Monica, Old Goa
Those who want to witness the six months preparation of Stuti for Brahm’s Requiem, can visit MOCA with an entry fee of Rs. 100.
Saturday October 14, 7:00 pm (Concert)
St. Michael’s Church, Anjuna, North Goa
Sunday October 15, 7:00 pm
Bom Jesus Basilica, Old Goa