14 May 2024  |   06:13am IST

Young voices echoing in Goa

From large cities to small villages, the heavenly sounds of children’s choirs captivate audiences and kindles interest and passion for music. These young voices, united in harmony, not only fill concert halls and churches with captivating melodies but also inspire communities with their talent, dedication and never-ending enthusiasm
Young voices echoing in Goa

Meliston Fernandes

The one who sings, prays twice” a beautiful statement by St. Augustine tells us the importance of sacred music. In these simple words, he expressed the idea that when one sings praises to God, they engage not only their voice but also their heart and spirit in prayer.  

Children's choirs are more than just musical ensembles; they are vibrant communities where young singers come together to share their love for music, build lifelong friendships, and go on a journey of creative expression. They are directed by passionate choir masters and supported by zealous parents and educators. These choirs provide a nurturing environment where children can discover the depths of their musical abilities and release their creative potential.

“Singing helps children feel the power of the presence of God in the context of worship. From a young age it will make them better worshipers as they start to grasp the impactful beauty of the worship experience. Singing in a choir at an early age helps develop self-esteem. There’s a good chance that child will keep singing their whole life long – hopefully in the adult choir eventually. And even if they don’t remain in an organized choir program, having a positive experience can stay with them into adulthood, making it more likely they’ll continue as a faithful.” says Fr. Mansueto Fernandes, Assistant Parish Priest at Regina Martyrum church, Assolna and music enthusiast.

Goa boasts a rich history of musical styles, influenced by its musical background and mixture of Portuguese, Indian, and indigenous traditions. There is a wide diversity into the choir collections of Goa, featuring traditional Goan folk songs, Konkani melodies, Portuguese and Latin hymns, as well as Indian classical and Western choral music. Goa's musical heritage preserves local traditions and also nurtures a sense of pride and cultural identity among singers.

The tradition of choral singing runs deep in Goan culture, dating back to the arrival of Portuguese in the 16th century. Influenced by European musical traditions, especially those of the Catholic Church, Goa's choral heritage has developed into a unique blend of Western classical music and indigenous Goan melodies.

Ashell Gomes, a young violinist from Navelim, who has been performing for choir’s right from very young age says, “It is the children choir in church that helps to build confidence for us children. As a young musician I learned a lot from these choirs. I met new people who taught me music, priest from the church introduced me to solfeggio. They helped me in building my musical talent. These children choirs help to keep us close to the church and its traditions.”

In recent decades, the importance of music education and cultural preservation has sparked a new start in children's choir movements across Goa. Schools, churches, and community organizations play pivotal roles in nurturing young talent, providing children with opportunities to explore their musical passions and develop their vocal abilities.

Children choirs in temples come together to sing in a religious or spiritual setting, often associated with the diety being worship. These choirs typically perform during religious services, ceremonies, festivals, and special events within their respective temples or communities. The music may include hymns, chants, spiritual songs, and other pieces that are meaningful within the context of the religious or spiritual community.

Involving children in choir activities helps to build a sense of belonging and commitment within the church community from a young age. It encourages their active participation in church life and can lead to long-term involvement as they grow older. Some of the members of children's choirs may have excellent musical talent. Nurturing and developing these talents within the church context enriches the choir and also contributes to the cultural and artistic landscape of the community.  Music in general can develop one’s understanding towards the cultural diversity of a given region and make one feel connected to it. 

“Being in the children's choir it gives me lot of happiness. I play the violin and they sing along. I get to teach them which helps me to get better in music. I call all my friends to sing for the choir and especially the boys and they all come. I practice hymns along with them I play the violin and they follow and sing along. Sometimes when I teach them I feel like a small teacher, as they all follow my instructions. I also get an opportunity to praise god with my talent.” 12 years old violinist Kaiser Mark Fernandes from Navelim.

While rooted in tradition, Goa's children's choirs also embraces innovation, incorporating contemporary elements into their musical pieces. From traditional Konkani hymns to Western classics. These choirs showcase the rich diversity of Goa's musical heritage while also discovering new horizons and pushing artistic boundaries.

“Having involved children in choirs, we not only pass on the traditional music but also our beliefs. So basically children experience the divine through their singing. When children sing and pray, it is much favored by God. Secondly, Singing in choirs helps to inculcate in a child the values of service to the people. They experience in their daily life a form of Grace. When they learn to give time to others their Vices will turn into Graces. Thirdly, when children sing, they sing their heart out. It's a Divine treat to hear Children sing melodiously with their innocence.” Says Manusha Jacques, violinist from Sanvordem, who also  has been conducting practices of the children choir. 

In a rapidly changing world, Goa's children's choirs stand as inspiration of hope, inspiring future generations to cherish their cultural heritage, pursue their dreams, and go all-out for excellence. As they raise their voices in harmony, these young choir member remind us of the power of music to uplift spirits, build bridges, and create a more harmonious world.

IDhar UDHAR

Idhar Udhar