When I was reading the issues on Choir raised by Dr.Thomas Varghese in Digest No.1148 I was pondering about the untoward facts that we face in our churches all over. Many times we fail to comprehend the following,
1. The Choir is to lead the congregation not to replace the role of the participants. I have seen in some places the Choirs doing this function very trustfully and the congregation following them. But many times situation changes as Dr. faced in Kerala.
2. The use of the Key Board should be to help the tunes to be even as a background. NOT AT ALL TO DOMINATE OVER the singing of the congregation. The word 'background' gives the definition to the use of instruments. Moreover the Syriac tunes are to be vocally performed not to be musically presented. But the judicious use of light BG can help the performance.
3.The amplification and monopolisation of the leader of the Choir and sound system and music will nothing but kill the spirituality and puropse. Then it turns to a concert or to use a term heard very often in Malayam TV, mere ADIPOLI !. Even without Choir leader I have heard some Altar Assistants changing themselves to Altar Masters by their sound and voice( Better Noice). They don't have the basics of sound management. They think that the loud noice that they make are the mastery! All those who are using a sound amplifying system should be alert on the feed back of the sound amplified, whether it be a priest or a reader or a singer. If we are not taking a caution, the legibility will be affected. The leader has to lead the congregation, not to substitute and do everything for the congregation and to silence them.
We see this mockery of voice monopoly in the marriage Choir in Kerala. One Male and an alternate female voice takes up thier professional role in the whole singing and they tend to replace the celebrants and the congregations. Many priests are helpless to make or suggest any changes. Moreover some priests are themselves the promoters of these concert type choirs even in Qurbono and other sacraments! Veli Thanne Vilavu Thinnunnu!
4.I think this all happens because of the influence of Western Christianity and their mode of worship. Their music based singing is very different from our vocal chorus. That is the reason why some of our choirs change even our traditional tunes. We have to follow our musical tradition along with the minimum supplement of musical background.
5.I join with Dr.Thomas Varghese to affirm that the choir is to help and lead the congregation not to silence them. Thank you Dr. for bringing this issue for our discussion.
I am waiting to hear the response of readers especially of the Priests and the Choir members.
Kuriakose Corepiscopa Moolayil
Director, Mor Adai Study Centre