Neil Nongkynrih is confirmed dead at the age of 51.
The bell has tolled for Neil Nongkynrih. We all await the same destiny.
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What did Neil Nongkynrih do?
Neil was best known as a Indian pianist.
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|Born||9 July 1970|
Shillong, Meghalaya, India
|Died||5 January 2022 (aged 51)|
|Genres||Classical, Pop, Jazz, Hindustani, Folk, Opera|
|Occupation(s)||Pianist, Songwriter, Keyboardist, Music Teacher, conductor, Central Board of Film Certification|
Neil Nongkynrih (9 July 1970 – 5 January 2022) was an Indian concert pianist. He was the founder, mentor and conductor of Shillong Chamber Choir (SCC), which won the reality show India's Got Talent in 2010. He was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India in 2015.
1.1 Early life
1.2 Music career
1.3 Collaborations and social causes
2 Works and projects
2.1 Shillong Chamber Choir
2.2 Central Board of Film Certification
2.3 World Choir Council
2.4 Sohlyngngem – The Opera
2.5 Home School – Shillong Chamber School
3 Honors and awards
Nongkynrih was born in Meghalaya, a north-eastern state of India to AH Scott Lyngdoh, a former state minister of Meghalaya and Elvirial Nongkynrih. He is the first professional musician from his family. Introduced to Mozart and Beethoven by his grand-aunt, Nongkynrih learnt most of his initial lessons from his sister Pauline Nongkynrih, a jazz musician. In 1988 Nongkynrih left for Great Britain as a young man to study music, against the wishes of his father.
Nongkynrih studied music at Trinity College and Guildhall School of Music in London. He did numerous shows as a concert pianist in United Kingdom
Apart from the concerts, Nongkynrih was also teaching music in Oxfordshire. One of his many successful pupils is Philip Selway, member of the popular British band Radiohead.
In 2001, Nongkynrih returned to India and started teaching piano in Shillong. In the same year he founded the Shillong Chamber Choir.
Neil Nongkynrih has worked on a wide variety of musical genres ranging from Western and Indian Classical music to Bollywood and pop medleys. He rose to fame after his choir, The Shillong Chamber Choir won the Indian television reality show India’s Got Talent in 2010. Since then, Nongkynrih and his team have never looked back and have gradually increased in terms of repertoire and recognition.
Neil Nongkynrih was bestowed with the Padma Shri (the fourth highest civilian award of India) in 2015 for his contribution in the field of arts through his music.
Being the director of the SCC, Neil Nongkynrih has been working on several projects, albums and collaborations. Currently, Nongkynrih has been writing an opera in Khasi, the native language of Meghalaya with the intention to revive the dialect. The opera titled ‘Sohlyngngem’ is based on a tragic Khasi folktale which is being woven into musical lingo by Nongkynrih and his team.
Collaborations and social causes
Neil Nongkynrih till date, has collaborated with various artists to create soul stirring music. Orchestra's he has collaborated with include The London Concertante and The Vienna Chamber Orchestra to name a few. Neil has also been featured with the world renowned Fitz William Quartet in his debut performance in Switzerland in 2004.
Under his banner, the SCC, Neil has worked on some interesting projects which have contributed to notable social causes. Few of them to mention are:
Collaboration with tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain for 'The Foundation' of which actor Rahul Bose is the founder.
Performances at the Gateway of India in remembrance of the 26/11 terror attacks in 2012 & 2013.
Sang for 'Saath Hai Hum Uttarakhand' - a Star Plus fundraiser for the Uttarakhand flood relief.
Performed with Amitabh Bachchan at the Global Citizen Festival and Jodhpur One World Retreat.
Nongkynrih and his choir have also performed with artists like Boman Irani, Usha Uthup, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, and Hariharan. These are just a few to mention apart from a long list of interesting collaborations that have led to out-of-the-box music.
Works and projects
Shillong Chamber Choir
Neil Nongkynrih came back home to Shillong, India in the year 2001 after fourteen years in Europe despite a promising career as a classical pianist. He heard the sounds of the guns early in 2001 and decided that he wanted to replace it with the sound of music. From a very humble beginning where he attracted a group of ordinary young people and making their debut as the Shillong Chamber Choir, it led to locally singing a whole range of music; from folk to opera, from rock to jazz, blossoming even to Hindustani classical and revamped versions of Indian cinematic music.
Based in Shillong, The Shillong Chamber Choir (SCC) is an Indian chamber choir founded in 2001 by Neil Nongkynrih. The choir shot to fame after it won the reality talent show, India's Got Talent (Season 2) in October 2010, on Colors TV, part of the Got Talent franchise, where it performed western chorals, as well as choral-style revamps of Hindi film (Bollywood) classics. The choir under the direction of Nongkynrih, participated in the 6th World Choir Games held at Shaoxing China (Shanghai) in July 2010 and was awarded Gold in all three categories - Musica Sacra, Gospel and Popular. The choir also performed for former US President Barack Obama and the then first lady Michelle Obama during their visit to India in 2010.
One of the notable events was when Neil Nongkynrih’s version of ‘Vande Maataram’ sung by the SCC was played on the reputed National Geographic Channel during the live telecast programme of landing of the Indian satellite ‘Chandrayaan – 2’.
The SCC has performed extensively in India and has been touring various parts of the world. Over the years, The Shillong Chamber Choir has worked on several projects and collaborations under the leadership of Nongkynrih. With the SCC, Neil is working on revamping the Choir’s repertoire with many new compositions and out of the box medleys apart from the opera ‘Sohlyngngem’ that he is currently working on.
Central Board of Film Certification
Apart from achieving laurels in music, Neil Nongkynrih is currently serving as a board member of India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) community since 2017 which is the core body dealing with affairs of the Indian Film Industry, the biggest movie-making industry in the world.
World Choir Council
In the year 2012, Neil Nongkynrih was appointed by the World Choir Council as the sole representative from India to represent the country on an international platform. Neil served as a member of the council from July 2012 - 2016.
Sohlyngngem – The Opera
One of Neil's major projects include an opera titled ‘Sohlyngngem’ which is based on a tragic Khasi folktale. Even though excerpts from the opera have been performed earlier, 3 pieces from the opera were performed by the SCC at the MTV India Music Summit in 2019, held in Jaipur which was a highlight of the 3 day musical event. Nongkynrih is still working on the opera and it will be performed by his choir, The Shillong Chamber Choir in all its entirety once it is completed.
Home School – Shillong Chamber School
After his return to India, Neil started a home school at his residence in Shillong for the kids, who visited his home almost every day, to help them excel in regular as well as musical education. In 2008, renowned director Urmi Juvekar made a documentary on Neil’s life, titled ‘The Shillong Chamber Choir and the Little Home School’ which garnered attention at various film festivals across the globe.
After years of organic development, the school has now evolved into a proper establishment named the ‘Shillong Chamber School’ with around 20 students in attendance. The school's curriculum ranges from regular studies to various arts like music and drama, sports and other activities. The students of the school have performed with the SCC and the European Concert Orchestra in Mumbai for a Christmas Concert and also before Rajiv Bajaj and cricketer MS Dhoni at a private event in Pune along with Neil and the choir.
Honors and awards
Padma Shri, 2015
U Tirot Sing Award, 2011
Forbes Person of the Year, 2010‐11
Member, World Choir Council
Member, Central Board of Film Certification, India, 2017–present
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