Delhi Chamber Choir’s soprano, Vaibhavi Singh, and tenor, Gaurav Vohra, have recently been accepted at the prestigious St Petersburg State Conservatory, whose star-studded alumni includes Tchaikovsky, Shostakovitch and Prokofiev.
When the lockdown cancelled Delhi Chamber Choir’s 2020 concert calendar, we focused on improving our musicianship through classes and workshops with guest teachers from Europe. Vaibhavi and Gaurav slowly segued from the group sessions to solo lessons. They continued their studies in Music Theory and Solfeggio at Piano Forte School of Music, alongside vocal lessons with noted Russian Soprano Tatiana Smantser. A year later, they are studying at one of the finest conservatories globally – also the toughest to get into.
The process made visible the roadblocks in pursuing an education in Western classical music for Indian students. It is especially challenging for singers. They have a narrow age window to develop vocal technique as well as sight-reading and solfeggio (specialised ear-training) abilities, in time to enter conservatories. Add to this a lack of conservatory alumni and teachers in India with the skillset and influential networks to prepare aspiring musicians.
In this sense, our singers were lucky. Thanks to DCC’s international network, we were able to find vocal teachers based in St. Petersburg (also alumni of the school) to prepare a competent repertoire for the auditions. DCC’s conductor, Nadezda Balyan trained them in Theory and Solfege. We had the Russian Cultural Centre’s unconditional support with scholarships, the visa process, Russian language classes, and even personal recommendations made to the Conservatory. All this was done virtually, amid the pandemic! If Indian institutions took as much interest, we’re sure we’ll be able to transform from being the first to the largest.
This is a big win for Delhi Chamber Choir coming out of the pandemic unsure about our future. It’s been a fulfilling journey that began with introducing these young singers to the works of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, and now sending them off to the very place the maestros were students themselves. We are confident that their experience will pave the way for singers, instrumentalists and conductors, and we hope the growing interest in Western Classical Music Education encourages institutional support from the government and private sectors.
About Delhi Chamber Choir
Delhi Chamber Choir was formed in 2007 to make Western classical music accessible, approachable, and appreciable to audiences in Delhi.
Little has changed over the years, except that DCC members have grown younger and come from much more diverse backgrounds. We’re musicians, marketers, teachers, customer relations professionals, and together we sing Bach, Palestrina, Poulenc, and more, in Latin, French, Russian, German, Hungarian, and any other language the score instructs. DCC’s repertoire is largely classical, but we do sing folk, and even – when in the mood – some contemporary music too!
We’ve performed at the Akshara Theatre, The Pianoman Jazz Club, Cathedral Church of the Redemption, Baha’i Auditorium (Lotus Temple), French Embassy, Russian Cultural Centre, and other places.
About the Conductor, Nadezda Balyan
An alumnus of the reputed Moscow State University of Art & Culture, Nadezda Balyan has conducted choirs in Russia and India for over a decade. In Delhi, she has worked extensively with the Neemrana Music Foundation and Delhi Chamber Choir, in countless productions with performers of international fame. Nadezda is also the Director of the Piano Forte School of Music & Art.
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