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After fate brought her to Kolkata as the wife of an American diplomat, Meeryung Hall, a well-known Western classical singer, has been enchanting audience here by belting out Rabindrasangeet songs in Bengali. During the last few months of her stay in Kolkata, Hall, wife of US Consul General Craig Hall, has given a number of public performances in the city including at the Raj Bhavan, American Centre and ICCR auditorium. Every time Meeryung, of South Korean origin, takes up the stage the audience is left amazed with her flawless rendition of Bengali lyrics in a Western style. Taking regular classes in Rabindrasangeet, she has mastered at least seven Tagore songs and is in the process of learning another set of seven songs. "One day I heard a consulate staff singing one of the Tagore songs. I loved it so much and decided to learn it. 'Alo amar alo' was the first song I learnt," Meeryung told PTI. Often accompanying her on the piano is musician and fashion designer Rajlakshmi who has been teaching nuances of Tagore songs to her. "Piano with her vocals is a deadly combination.
It is said that the essence of Tagore is in elegance and when Rabindrasangeet is played with the piano it reflects the essence," Rajlakshmi said.
Describing the envoy's wife as a proficient and sincere student of Tagore, she said she translates every word of the Bengali song in English and explains her the meaning of the tune.
On how difficult was it to bridge gap of many generations, culture and geography in understanding the poetry of Tagore, Meeryung said the words of the bard have a universal and timeless appeal due to its simplicity and deep spiritual connect. She gave the example of the famous song 'Purano shei diner kotha' (Memories of the Good Old Days) which reminds her of a Korean folk song. "The rhythms and the melody are so close," said the trained western classical vocalist who has more than 25 years of experience in solo recitals in USA, Indonesia, Australia and Korea before shifting to India last August. Hall, who holds a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from Baylor University in Texas, has made it a point to learn the local music and culture in each of the country she has stayed in. She hopes that her music will build lasting ties between the people of Kolkata and those of the United States. "I am doing this first as a musician but I also like to make friends. Helping build ties through music is an added bonus," said Hall who regularly gets requests and invitations for public performances in various programs.