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Neil Nongkynrih, renowned pianist & founder of Shillong Chamber Choir, dies at 51

Neil Nongkynrih founded the Shillong Chamber Choir in 2001. He was conferred with the Padma Shri in 2015.

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Guwahati: Neil Nongkynrih, renowned pianist and founder and conductor of the Shillong Chamber Choir, passed away Wednesday in Mumbai. He was 51.

“It is with deep sorrow that we, the members and management of the Shillong Chamber Choir, announce the death of our beloved founder and music director, Mr Neil Nongkynrih,” a statement by the Shillong Chamber Choir read.

According to reports, Nongkynrih died following a brief illness. He along with the Choir had been in Mumbai for several months, recording an album.

Following his death, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma in a tweet wrote, “I am saddened beyond words by the sudden demise of Padma Shri Neil Nongkynrih, founder of the famous Shillong Chamber Choir. He was a mentor to the country’s finest choir that serenaded crowds wherever they performed. We have lost a gem today.”

Who was Neil Nongkynrih

Born in 1970, Neil Nongkynrih was the son of A.H. Scott Lyngdoh, a former Meghalaya minister, and Elvirial Nongkynrih. Albeit he never received any formal training at a young age, Nongkynrih had been introduced to the works of Mozart and Beethoven by his grand-aunt.

According to a report, he received his initial lessons from his sister Pauline Warjri, a jazz musician.

In 1988, Nongkynrih left to study music at the Trinity College and Guildhall School of Music in London. He worked in the UK for several years, playing concerts and teaching music and finally returned to India in 2001.

He founded the Shillong Chamber Choir, a multi-genre choir, in the same year. The choir in 2010 went on bag the first place in the reality show India’s Got Talent. In the same year, they were also awarded three gold awards at the 6th World Choir Games for Musica Sacra, Gospel and Popular Music.

In 2015, Nongkynrih was conferred with the Padma Shri for his contribution towards promoting music, art and culture of the country.

Also read: 7-yr-old Greek piano prodigy has composed an ‘isolation waltz’ and the world is loving it


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