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Singing all-time classics for social causes
British band Toccata, which took birth after the 2004 tsunami to use music for the greater good, recently took the city by storm with evergreen English songs.
After seeing the devastation caused by the tsunami in 2004 across south India, including in Chennai, and in South East Asian countries like Indonesia and Thailand, Dr Sunil Paulraj, who grew up in the city, decided to use musical talents of people for the sake of raising funds for the needy. Dr Sunil, a neonatal specialist in Ireland, thus formed the band Toccata (which means to touch) in 2005. With about 85 musicians from diverse backgrounds, the band has performed at venues around the world to contribute towards social causes.
Toccata, which grew to become one of the UK’s top bands, was recently in our city. They managed to create an electric atmosphere at The Residency Towers, where they performed classic English songs for 75 minutes. Hits by bands such as Bon Jovi, ABBA and Elton John were sung melodiously, taking the audience back to the good old times of music — which wasn’t taken over by electronic sounds. Dressed in shades of blue, about 20 of the band’s members took over the city’s music lovers’ attention as they performed to classics like We Are The Champions by British rock band, Queen, and Chiquitita by Swedish pop group ABBA.
“We wanted to perform easily recognisable songs from iconic bands. But we perform them in a unique style. Toccata began as an initiative to help people through music and how now grown into a huge global movement. People from different parts of the world are part of the band and it makes us happy to sing and be able to help someone,” recalls Dr Sunil speakingto DT Next.
The doctor-singer who grew up in Chennai, also recalls running marathons representing Tamil Nadu. “In the aftermath of the tsunami, I wanted to bring different musicians together in aid of people,” he adds. A total of 60 out of the band’s 85 members have travelled to our country to perform at various cities. “We are performing at different venues in the country so as to support a school for street children located in Bengaluru. Each of the band members comes from different professions and what has united us all is music and the ability to share our music with people to make a difference,” he elaborates.
The British band has performed to come to the rescue of children in Zambia, Kenya, Nepal among other countries, and has raised over three million pounds for several social causes so far. The band has also won The Golden Rule Award, a recognition from the United Nations for its humanity services. The musical body also takes pride in being able to bring people from different backgrounds, faiths and races to perform as one big family.