They love their music and so they speak it. That is the philosophy of Lilongwe Community Choir (LCC), a group dreaming of taking choral music in Malawi to new heights.
Coming from different backgrounds, LCC started in 2015 as group which will not only sing gospel music, but also other educative songs for social change and development.
Passion is the main reason that saw Chisomo Dan Kauma, a civil engineer, establishing the choir.
“I have a passion for classic choral music. I have noted that in Malawi we are not doing much when it comes to choral music. I, therefore, established LCC as an interdenominational, inclusive singing group to bring together people of different backgrounds,” he said.
According to Kauma, the group is open to any person that is interested in choral music.
“There is no need for auditions as one purpose of the group is to teach people how to read music and sing; this is why no experience is required to join the group,” said Kauma in an interview.
The choir uses a unique blend of staging and choreography to turn its shows into musical-theatre-style productions. In addition to focusing on high musical quality, the choir strives to convey a genuine and infectious sense of fun to its audiences.
LCC is truly a community organisation as its members are a representative of a cross-section of diverse people.
“The membership is not restricted for Lilongwe, it is open for every interested person in all districts, provided the person will be able to attend choir practices and music lessons. Many people see themselves as ‘non singers’ because of previous experiences of criticism and judgment.
“Many are excluded from singing activities because they do not have music-reading skills or trained voices. Our work aims to counteract these experiences and give people confidence in their voices by providing them with a supportive learning environment and a suitable repertoire,” he explained.
Through the months, the choir has performed at different events which though few, have given people the idea of what it stands for as well as its capabilities. Recently, the choir performed at Gateway Shoprite in Lilongwe as part of celebrating Christmas. It also performed at Madsoc Theatre where at both venues it presented the best 20 Christmas carols.
“Surely, we achieving the purpose of the group which is making choral music together, share knowledge like Music reading theory, vocal techniques, conducting, have public presentations, visiting and cheering the oppressed like in hospitals, blind. In addition we plan to be conducting choral concerts, competitions, organising choral workshops, participating in international choral competitions and festivals just to mention a few. But LCC is non-profit making group, we just want make a platform for people to make music,” mused Kauma.
A performance that delivers a new dimension and experience of a composition and moves listeners is what will ensure success. It is about colour, texture and electricity. Ultimately it is filling a venue with a soul stirring rendition and moving listeners to joy.
With this in hand, the choir is slowly being routinely recognised for its impressive performances of major choral works and other carefully-selected choral music. Comments on these performances on the choirs Facebook page, typically cite the quality of the vocal blend, precision dynamics, and expressive impact on the audience.
“We are currently we are playing music composed by George Fredrick Handel Messiah, Moses Hogan, Mozart, Antonio Vivald, and some hymns. We also do folk songs of Malawi, which are songs composed long time ago and they communicate old stories, for example music that you get from Nthano in Villages. We are not a church group and that’s why we play any content,” according to Kauma.
While the main challenge of the choir is financing as it is currently self-sustaining with sources of revenue being membership fees, corporate sponsorship and audience donations at event door, LCC has a short term vision of having the group grow to a minimum of 80 members.
“More members are welcome to join the choir in order to be a high profile musical ensemble within the community and Malawi as a nation. My long term dream is to find a choir in any country in Africa or beyond that would be willing to create a sister choir relationship with LCC. My dream and hope is that the choirs would work together and be able to offer a unique experience. The two choirs could put a combined concert and this would be an amazing opportunity for both choral groups.
“It would allow our choirs to have fantastic musical and social experience, which may be hard to find if the choir is not interacting. My hope is that we could build a relationship that would continue for many years and become a tradition in both countries,” he said. n