Neil Nongkynrih, founder of Shillong Chamber Choir dies at 51

MUMBAI: Neil Nongkynrih, the founder of the Shillong Chamber Choir and a renowned music composer, died at the Reliance Hospital in Mumbai on Wednesday following a brief illness, according to Choir officials.

On Tuesday, Uncle Neil, as he was affectionately called, was admitted to the hospital. “He died today following surgery,” a spokesperson for the group told PTI. Neil Nongkynrih spent the last three months in Mumbai working with the whole Choir.

Neil’s mortal remains, who received the Padma Shri award in 2015, will be sent to his house as soon as all processes in Mumbai were finished, he added. He led his choir to victory on India’s Got Talent in 2010, catapulting the Shillong group to national and international fame.

Neil, alumni of London’s prominent Trinity College of Music and Guildhall School of Music, returned to Shillong in 2001 to start the Shillong Chamber Choir after years of singing and teaching music in England.

During a tour to India in the same year, they performed for former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama. During the broadcast of Chandrayaan II’s launch, the Choir’s rendition of “Vande Mataram” was aired.

“Mr. Neil Nongkynrih was an outstanding mentor to the Shillong Chamber Choir, which enthralled audiences globally. I have also witnessed some of their superb performances. He left us too soon. His creativity will always be remembered. Condolences to his family and admirers. RIP,” Prime Minister, Narendra Modi said on Twitter.

Neil’s choir has also collaborated with the internationally recognized Fitz William Quartet. It’s also collaborating with prominent personalities in Indian music including Ustad Zakir Hussain, Usha Uthup, and Shankar Ehsan Loy. In 2011, their Christmas album became the best-selling non-movie music album in India.

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