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The choir performs on Christmas 2017

On song

Author: admin

A choir is not a platform you’d associate with a fighter pilot. But for Suresh Shekar, a former flying ace, this weekly appointment with his fellow singers, many of whom are wheelchair-bound like him, is not to be missed for anything in the world. Seeing the motley crew—aged between 65 and 95—exercise their vocal chords with zeal and zest, it’s difficult to believe many are terminally ill and disabled by stroke and Parkinson’s. Meet The Choir of the Loaves and Fish, which recently held its annual Christmas performance ‘Love Changes Everything’ at the Holy Spirit Home for the Aged at Bannerghatta Road in Bengaluru.

Launched in 2012 by Pervin Varma, whose uncle and aunt were residents of Holy Spirit Home, the choir currently comprises 14 members. Among them is Rajee Sawhney, back after a brief stint of hospitalisation, but exhibiting no signs of exhaustion. Propped up by cushions in a wheelchair, she belts out solos enthusiastically. “Music is therapeutic for them,” says Regina Thomas, who, along with Varma, has been running the choir and training the singers. “The practice sessions give them a chance to bond with each other and a purpose to carry on.”

Interestingly, the name of the choir is inspired by the story of Jesus Christ feeding 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. The choir gives two performances annually: on Christmas and Independence Day. While on 25 December, they belt out carols, hymns and Christmas songs, for Independence Day they sing secular songs in English, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam and Konkani.

Besides regular concerts, the choir, whose longest serving members are Angela and Lindsay, has also performed at an international conference organised last year by Headstreams, an NGO working in the child education sector, a church and another old age home. “They eagerly look forward to the annual performance when they are lustily cheered by family and friends,” adds Thomas. “The glint in their eyes while being acknowledged by their children is to die for!”

Photos: Nestin Vas
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
February 2018