Shillong Chamber Choir founder Neil Nongkynrih

Founder of Shillong Chamber Choir and Padma Shri awardee, Neil Nongkynrih, died at a hospital in Mumbai on January 5. He was 51.

Host of dignitaries, including prime minister Narendra Modi, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma, his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma and many others, condoled the demise of Neil Nongkynrih, who was popularly known as “Uncle Neil”.

The acclaimed music conductor and composer was in Mumbai along with his entire Shillong Chamber Choir team for the past three months as part of their professional work.

“Nongkynrih was admitted to the hospital on January 4 and breathed his last today evening (January 5) after a surgery,” a choir functionary said in Shillong.

The mortal remains of Nongkynrih, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2015, would be brought to Shillong after completing the necessary formalities in Mumbai.

Nongkynrih, an alumnus of London’s prestigious Trinity College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, taught music in England before returning to Meghalaya in 2001 to set up the Shillong Chamber Choir, which gradually became a popular music troupe across the country and abroad.

The Shillong Chamber Choir, which has received many international recognitions and awards, has also collaborated with the several globally acclaimed groups and its Christmas album in 2011 became India’s highest selling non-movie music album.

The choir had performed at the Rashtrapati Bhavan when former US President Barack Obama and the then first lady Michelle Obama visited India in 2011.

In 2010, the choir won the reality TV show, ‘India’s Got Talent’.

In 2017, the central government had appointed Nongkynrih as a member of the Central Board of Film Certification.

Condoling the death, PM Modi tweeted: “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.”

Meghalaya chief minister said in a tweet: “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.”

“Deeply saddened by the news of demise of Neil Nongkynrih, the founder of Shillong Chamber Choir, in Mumbai this evening. Under his leadership, the choir rose to great heights winning fame not only for Meghalaya but entire Northeast,” Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a tweet.

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