Shillong Chamber Choir founder and noted music composer Neil Nongkynrih died at a hospital in Mumbai today after a brief illness, Choir officials said. He was 51.
Uncle Neil, as he was fondly known to all, was admitted to Mumbai’s Reliance Hospital on Tuesday. “He passed away today after a surgery,” a spokesman for the group told news agency PTI. Neil Nongkynrih was in Mumbai for the past three months for work with the entire Choir.
“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,” the Choir said in a statement.
“Uncle Neil was the life force of our world, a towering personality whose music, through the choir he so fondly nurtured, reached the ears of Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ambassadors, and some of the biggest names in the worlds of sports, culture, business, music, and film,” it said.
“In 2010, he led his choir to win India’s Got Talent, catapulting the little Shillong unit to national and international stardom. In 2015, he was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award.” The win catapulted the group to international fame. The same year, they performed for former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama during their India visit. The Choir’s rendition of “Vande Mataram” was played during the telecast of Chandrayaan II’s launch.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in mourning Neil Nongkynrih.
“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,” PM tweeted.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma tweeted: “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.”
“With a heavy heart we mourn the loss of one of the legends of Meghalaya, Shri Neil Nongkynrih. His music had the power to bring joy in the darkest times. His contribution in field of music is unparalleled. He lives on with the Shillong Chamber Choir,” Trinamool Congress’ Meghalaya unit wrote on Twitter.