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Oct 25, 2014

The Drums Of Destiny: A Tribute to Harry's Silver Band

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[ Published Date: January 20, 2006 ]

Basking under the glory of a 100 year history is our very own 'Harry's Silver Band' distinguished simply by the sincere service it has rendered in the field of music.  Headed by three generations at different times, it has found steady growth and improvement amidst the expectations of an ever increasing and appreciative audience not only in and around the city of Mangalore, but also outside the district of South Kanara.

Today no function is complete or considered 'gahmmat' without that unique blend of music characterized by the melodious and foot-stomping beat of Harry's Band.  The band members are extremely proud of their musical instruments which comprise of Trumpets, Cornets, Clarinets, Baritone, Euphoria, Souzaphone (formerly circle bass), Cymbals, Murakash (moracco), Side Drum, Base Drum etc.  And rightfully so too.  The demand for their presence at all weddings, processions and other joyful occasions speaks for itself. 

The band is also adept at playing devotional hymns and sorrowful tunes at religious occasions and funeral processions thus setting the mood for melancholy as well.  Their expertise also includes music composition and song-writing.


At Bejai church grounds  before the "Porab" a Nine day  Konkani cultural programme presented by Mandd Sobhann (Regd.) 55 well known brass band artistes participated in this programme.

Smartly dressed in trendy and colorful uniforms, and armed with their shiny brass instruments, the entry of Harry's band into any venue brings with it an immediate sense of gaiety and exuberance.  Though many bands have tried to imitate their unique style, none have visibly measured up to them so far.

The bands leader has given musical programs over Akashvani station in Mangalore and has rendered music for Musical Nights and Cultural Programs held by various institutions and associations.  He has also participated in the Bangalore Doordarshan Program, presently known as 'Chandana'.  Additionally he and his band have rendered music for the cassettes produced by other groups and have also produced cassettes of their own songs, hymns and band music.

It is not very difficult to pinpoint the formula for this success story.  Maintaining discipline and punctuality, quoting reasonable rates, sincere dealing and reliable service to all clientele irrespective of who they are, could be some of the factors that have kept their popularity intact for all these years.

It is also a known fact that the leaders of this band have unselfishly trained many persons in the adept usage of drums and wind instruments thus giving rise to many new bands in Mangalore.

How did it all start?

Although the brass band came to India through the European Military in olden times, the musical instruments of this band were already familiar to the people settled on the West Coast of India.  This band became the organ of entertainment in the day-to-day life of the people when it played during their weddings, feasts, processions and other joyful social functions.  It produced feelings of joy and satisfaction in the minds of the young and old alike. Since the majestic sound created while blowing the brass band instruments could not be produced through the native wind instruments, slowly and steadily the brass band became popular among all sections of the society without distinction of caste or creed. 

For the Christian Community, this band provided the music for weddings, funerals and religious processions.  When the Hindu deities were taken in procession, they required the music of the native instruments, but the brass band was preferred for producing a powerful and sonorous sound. Therefore, even though the Hindus required the 'Volaga' music for their wedding ritual ceremonies, in order to make the function more lively, they included the brass band in the outer premises of their houses and in their wedding pendals.

The Founder, Mr. Lawrence D'Souza


Lawrence D'Souza (Founder of the band)

About a century ago, Sri. Isidore Noronha's band had become famous in Mangalore due to its performance at Weddings and other social functions. Mr. Lawrence D'Souza who was a member of this band, started his own band in 1906 on a smaller scale. He was an ardent lover of music and took great interest in fostering it.  His father, Mr. Michael D'Souza and mother Isabella were residents of Punjalkatte and had fourteen children, seven boys and seven girls.  All the seven brothers had adopted tailoring as their profession. 

Lawrence drew three of his brothers namely, Santan, Francis and Salvadore towards the band and they became its members.  Since they received a lot of encouragement from the public, they gave up their tailoring profession and Lorsam (as he was fondly known) carried on the band as a full time occupation.  As Bandmaster he played the cornet and thus the band was born.  Mr. Manuel Noronha, Rosario D'Souza, Santan D'Souza, Francis D'Souza, Salvadore D'Souza, John D'Souza, and Joseph Furtado were the other initial members and the band carried on (literally) in full swing catering to the social and religious functions of Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike. 

And they played on…..

……in places like Calicut (Kozhikode), Cannanore, Belipatna, Kanhagad, Kasargod etc. During Lorsam's days the payment for the band for one full wedding function varied from Rs. 10 to Rs. 12 and the cornet player was getting one and a half rupee only.

At the Diocesan Eucharistic Congress which was held in Mangalore in 1938, along with Brass Bands from Puttur, and Paddodi (Kulur), Lorsam's band from Bejai also rendered music under the guidance of Dr. Lawrence P. Fernandes of Fr. Muller's Hospital, Kankanady.

The Musical Legacy passes on…..

Lorsam was married to Marceline Rodrigues and had two children.  He had trained his son Edi to play the band at a young age and Edi was attending to the band functions even as a youth.  In 1953, due to his old age, Lorsam gave up the responsibility of the band to his son Edi.  The earning of the band at this time was Rs. 80 to 90 for a wedding function. For a Hindu wedding, besides the cash payment, other items such as rice, coconuts, chillies and salt were also received.

Even though his eye sight became weak, Lorsam continued to be in good health and lived for more than ninety years.  He left for his heavenly abode on 22nd September, 1966.  He had founded his brass band, improved it by his own efforts and took pains to render faithful and prompt service to all sections of the society, thereby making it popular and famous throughout the region.  A great man who had the courage to follow his dreams.  We can truly say that he has left his legacy not only to his son but to all Mangaloreans.

And the Legacy continues……

Sri Michael Ambrose D'Souza (Ediyab) was born on 4th May, 1913 in Kodialbail.  When Ediyab was a small boy, his mother expired.  His primary education (from 1st to 7th std) took place in St. Francis Xavier Higher Primary School and Government Training School, Bejai and in St. Sebastian Higher Primary School, Bendur, after which he stopped his education.  While schooling,  he also worked as a watch repairer for two years with Sri Vaman Nayak and Sri Albert Sequeira.

During those days Lorsam's band from Bejai was popular not only in Mangalore but also in areas around the city. As the demand for the band increased and as his father found it difficult to carry on with the affairs of the band, Edi left his watch repairers job and gave full support to his father.  By this time, he had learnt to play the Cymbals, the Side Drum, the Bass Drum and the Cornet from his father Lorsam.

Armed with an inborn gift for music and with an insatiable desire to gain more knowledge in the field of music, Ediyab obtained training in 'Sol Fa' and other musical notations from three gifted Goans – Colaco master, Rayan and Sri. J.C. Sequeira.  As Ediyab grew along with the band, he became a clever band artist, second to none.  Not entirely satisfied with the existing band income and urged on by youthful fervor, Ediyab became a Cornet player in circus companies like Broadway, Grand Sunlite and Tiptop and traveled extensively within South India.  As these companies failed to pay proper wages to the employees, Ediyab eventually resigned and returned to Mangalore, giving undivided attention to his band.

In this interim he married Stella Mary Rodrigues and seven years later Harry was born. After another six years a girl Janet was born.

Once he returned to Mangalore, there was no looking back.  He trained three band sets in Bajpe, two sets in Loretto, one set each at Surathkal, Fajir and Meremajal.  About seven players were trained in each of these sets.  Apart from these he gave training to about 40 persons in playing the wind instruments, drums and cymbals.  Today, very few continue in this profession.   The ones that do are clearly Ediyab's disciples.

At this time Paulams band in Kudumbihitlu, Kalaigar Pokams band at Hampankatta, another Lorsam's band at Kankanady and Salvador's band on a small scale at Market road, Hampankatta, were in existence.

The legacy is handed over yet again...

From 1953 to 1982, under Ediyab's able leadership, the 'Silver Jubilee Band' became famous and earned a lot of praise for its excellent service in many surrounding regions like Chikmagalur, Sakleshpur, Ujire, Belthangady, Balehonnur, Hirebail, Madikeri and Somwarpet. 

His first public honor in the field of musical art was conferred on him by the then Minister for Law, Sri. Blasius D'Souza on August 11, 1991 on behalf of the Konkani Basha Mandal (Regd.) Karnataka at the Fatima Retreat House, Mangalore.

The 'Mandd Sobhann (Regd.)' publicly honored Ediyab with a shawl at its 'Mando Fest' program held under the leadership of Sri Eric Ozario on 20th October 1991 at the Canara High School grounds, Kodialbail.

On May 1, 1993, at the historic 'Brass Band Concert' program presented by the 'Konkani cultural Centre' (a co-association of 'Mandd Sobhann (Regd.)' at Ladies Club Grounds, Mangalore, the then Director of 'Sandesha' Rev. Fr. Henry D'Souza publicly honored Ediyab with a shawl.

Even though the demise of his wife in 1980 brought him immense grief, Ediyab toiled without rest for his band for a long period of 69 years. From 1982 he handed over the major part of the band's responsibility to his able son Harry who was now 32 years old.

Ediyab played for the funeral of his friend Sri Liguory Lasrado on March 31, 1994 in the Derebail Parish. This happened to be his last performance, the Swan Song of his professional career. He died of cancer on May 19, 1994, leaving the legacy of his father Lorsam to his son Harry.

The Third Generation

Sri Harry Cyril D'Souza was born on October 21, 1950 in Bejai.  From his boyhood days, Harry grew up in an atmosphere of music, music and more music.  After completing his primary, secondary and high school education in St. Francis Xavier school, Bejai and St. Aloysius School, he worked for four years as a motor mechanic in a garage.  This was followed by a stint in the Reserve Police Band for nine years.  Leaving this job, he went to Doha-Qatar in search of better prospects and worked there for two years. 

But music was in Harry's blood.  He was never happy unless he was singing or playing in the band.  He returned from the Gulf and breathed new life into his father's band.  Having learnt to play the trumpet at the age of 19 years, he was a natural at 'performing' in the band.  He composed his own songs, each unique to the occasion, his forte being the wedding pendal.

Harry married Agnes D'Costa of Mulki Parish on June 16, 1980. They were blessed with identical twins Hazel Reena and Henrita Rashmi in 1985. In 1986, a boy Hubert Joswey was born to them.

Today, Harry's Country Band is a tribute to Lorsam's worthy legacy.  He has performed in a scene in the popular Konkani feature film 'Mog ani Moipas' and has also taken part in many functions of 'Mandd Sobhann' carried out under the leadership of Sri Eric Ozario.

Harry has composed more than 30 'new' tunes for the band and feels happy and proud of his musical achievements.  He has earned the unique distinction of playing the band at six different functions on the same day.  When occasions required, he has even brought one artist from Bajpe and another from Bajjodi after awakening them at midnight, such has been his commitment to his music. He is talented, hard working and has composed more than 180 songs in Konkani, Kannada and Tulu. 

As he sings on the stage, his style and movements sometimes make people mistake him for a Goan.  But Harry's signature style of singing and playing the trumpet is endearingly unique and his alone.  Yet it has not prevented many persons, specifically in the Gulf countries, from producing duplicate copies of his band music, putting them on sale and making profits.  In this case, imitation has not proved to be the best form of flattery.  Harry says that he is making attempts to retain the original style of Konkani music and in this work, Capuchin Friar Vitus Prabhudas has given him guidance and help.

Harry explains how his band acquired the name 'Silver Jubilee Band'. This band has played every year at a function in the house of Late Francis D'Sa (Poka Maistry) of Derebail for a continuous period of 25 years. In recognition of this service, his band received this honor – a blessing to shine as silver if not like gold.

At the Roce pendal

It is customary during Christian weddings to celebrate the Roce function with pomp and gaiety.  In olden days, muras of rice, plantains, vegetables, as well as other items required for the wedding dinner were gifted by close relatives. These were carried on the head as 'vojem' accompanied by the brass band, to the wedding pendal on the day of the Roce.  The entrance of the band into the wedding pendal introduced a special glamour to the entire function.  It set the mood for the youngsters to dance with abandon to the traditional tunes of the band music.  This in turn encouraged the band to play popular old and new Mangalorean and Goan songs.  The tradition continues to this day and so does the legacy of the Brass Band.

Service rendered to the Konkani Christian Community in the field of songs and music by Sri Harry D'Souza in co-operation with other groups and associations:

In the seven Wilfy Night (from 19th to 25th night) musical programs presented by Konkani Kogul Wilfy Rebimbus, Harry has rendered his services by playing the lead trumpet.

In the musical evening program 'Podanchi Sanz' presented along with others in 1970, Harry has composed six new songs, rendered music to them and also played trumpet during the function.

More or less about this time Harry has composed songs in Konkani and sung them for the play 'Tunch To Ghatki' staged on 13-6-1970. Later he has composed and sung songs in Tulu for the play 'Pu Orollnaga' written and presented by Vishal Kumar. Harry and Vishal Kumar have also composed and sung songs for the Tulu drama 'Shanti'.

During the 'Mando Fest' program presented by Mandd Sobhann (Regd.) under the leadership of Konkan Kala Samrat, Sri. Eric Ozario on 20th October, 1991 at Canara High school Grounds, Kodialbail, Harry has contributed a small brass band piece as a part of the program. He was also the trumpet player for the items of different groups.


During the award ceremony of Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy Award 2001-02

During the Konkani Cultural Festival 'Porob' organized by 'Mandd Sobhann (Regd.), from 17th October to 25th of October 1992 on Balmatta K.C.S. grounds, Harry has led a major group of 50 band artists in procession from Car street to Balmatta K.C.S. grounds, to welcome the chief guest of the function on each day.  Harry has played the band for about one hour. In the item 'Rojik Kazar' presented by Sri Bennet Pinto of Bejai as a part of the festival, Harry's band has contributed a major part. This program has appeared on Bangalore Doordarshan.

Mandd Sobhann ( Regd.) had organized  Konkani cultural program 'Saanth' from November 6th to 21st, 1993 at Nehru Maidan, Mangalore. In this program, Harry has played his band in the special procession carrying 'Vojem' from the Light house hill via Jyothi Circle to Nehru Maidan. He has also played his band for the opening as well as other functions. He has contributed an hour's band playing performance on the stage.

At the 'M.M. Kumar Nite' presented at Don Bosco Hall, Mangalore by 'Milan Mangalore' on March 30th, 1986, Harry has given the direction for the Orchestra for all Konkani songs and also been the trumpet player.

Harry has played the trumpet in the musical program 'Sangeet Malla' presented in 1992 by Rony D'Souza in Bondel.

In the musical stage functions of Sri. Cyril D'Souza (RILS) organized twenty years ago, Harry has played trumpet as a member of the group in many small as well as big functions.


Dance Baila cassette release, at St. Ann's Friary, Kodialbail

On 31st December 1993 and 1994 nights, the Konkani Catholic Association, Bangalore (Regd.) has presented 'Harry's Silver Band' programs as their New Year Celebration function on St. Germain's high School grounds, Bangalore.

In the 'Brass Band Concert' program sponsored by the 'Konkani Cultural Centre' and presented at Ladies Club grounds, Mangalore on May 1st 1993, the music of old songs, Goan Mando songs and Western songs were played. In this function, a new tune 'God's Gift' composed by Harry was presented.


Milan Manglur's Konkani Sangeet Shri Award being awarded by Konkan Kala Samrat Eric Ozario

On the 27th August 1994, the Konkani Basha Mandal (Regd.) Karnataka had organized the inauguration function of the 'Vishwa Konkani Sammel' at the PVS Kala Kunj, Mangalore. In this function Harry had given a half an hour stage band performance.

Among the 'Baila Show' programs organized at various places by 'Mandd Sobhann (Regd.)' Harry has rendered his services for a few of these functions by becoming a trumpet player.

In the 'Aids Awareness Program' conducted at St. Agnes College grounds, Bendur on December 1st, 1994, Harry has composed two Tulu and two Konkani songs and has sung them with the accompaniment of his band.

A 'Karavali Food Festival 'was organized from 1995 March 10th to 19th in the Rain Tree corner of 'Taj Cannemara' five star hotel at Madras. In the Baila Show program presented at this festival by 'Mandd Sobhann (Regd.)', Harry has taken part as a member of the group and as a trumpet player.

At the '5th Mm Kumar Nite' presented by 'Milan Mongllur' on 16th April, 1995 at Don Bosco Hall, Mangalore Harry D'Souza and Sri Joel Pereira have composed music and given music direction for the Konkani songs. Besides being the co-director of music, Harry was also the trumpet player.

At the 'Baila Festival 95' program presented under the leadership of Konkan Kala Samrat Sri. Eric Ozario by 'Mandd Sobhann (Regd.) on 21st April 1995 at 'Al-Nasr Leisure land' in Dubai Harry has taken part as a trumpet player.

On 27th April 1995 a cultural program 'Baila Festival-95' was presented by 'Mandd Sobhann (Regd.)' at the Arzana Hall in the Sheraton Hotel at Abu Dhabi. Harry has played the trumpet during this function.


Konkani writer Mrs. Gladys Rego at Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy Award function

Akashvani and Doordarshan

Ever since the conception of Akashvani in Mangalore till the year 1979, Harry has contributed his programs of songs and music. He has also taken part in programs produced by others.

He has also taken part in the cultural program of 'Mandd Sobhann (Regd.)' broadcast over Bangalore Doordarshan in 1993.


Cardinal Lourdswamy, one of the PA's to  Late Pope John Paul IInd

Musical Nites

The 'First Harry Nite' was presented by Konkani Yuvajan Mangalore as its first program in the Mangalore Town hall on 7th September 1975. Harry composed the tunes and music, wrote the songs and rendered them under his own direction.

On 14th November, 1982, the 'Tony-Harry Nite' was presented in Don Bosco hall, Mangalore by 'Prim Rose, Mongllur'. Harry composed the Konkani and Tulu songs with words, tunes and music for this nite and also sung them.

The 'Second Harry Nite' was presented by 'Lehari' on 12th December 1982 at Don Bosco Hall, Mangalore. Harry composed the music for this nite, sung the songs and also played the trumpet.

A 'Mini Harry Nite' was presented in 1983 at the Kelarai Church grounds. Harry arranged the lyrics and composed tunes with music for the songs of this nite. This program was presented by Harry's musical group.

Recordings

In 1983, Sallak Prakashan, Mangalore (Prop: Cyril Veigas, Sirivant) has brought out a cassette 'Harry's Geet Sangeet Lahari' of Harry's Konkani songs.

In 1992, the Canara Communications Centre, Mangalore has produced 'Mando' an instrumental Brass Band Cassette Vol 1, the music for which was played by Harry's Silver Band.

In 1993, under the direction of Konkan Kala Samrat Sri Eric Ozario, 'Mandd Sobhann (Regd.)' as promoters, the Konkani Cultural Centre , Mangalore has brought out a cassette 'Brass Band Concert' (Live)'. Harry was the main trumpet player and his band has played a prominent part.

The Canara communications Centre, Mangalore has produced two cassettes 'Amchem Daiz' and 'Rojik Kazar' involving Konkani culture. Harry has played trumpet along with his band in these two cassettes.


MLA Abhaya Chandra Jain felicitating on 26th Jan 2003, during the Republic day parade at Karnad, Mulki(L); Being felicitated by Kunil Education Trust, in 2002(R)

Harry has become a trumpet player in 'Rego's Konkani songs Cassette' produced in 1987.

Harry has played trumpet in the Audio Cassette 'Sangeet Kozan' recorded in 1993 by Anjelore's Canute of Canute Nite fame.

In 1992, the Urwa Parish has brought out a Konkani devotional cassette 'Geetam Gavyam' containing eleven hymns. Harry has written the words and composed tunes for seven of these hymns. The music for these hymns was supplied by Pappan and his associates from Calicut.

Honors and Titles


On 13-02- 1999 ( 9th Annual Inter House Athletic Meet closing ceremony) Arjun award winner Mrs. Manjari Bhargava giving presentation at Kunil Education Trust School, Muttam(L);  'Konkan Band of the Century' Presented by Ronald Colaco, Managing committee member on behalf of Kanara Catholic Association (Regd.)(R)

Honored by the late Sri. Stanley Saldanha at the New Year's Eve celebration function held at St. Germain's High School grounds, Bangalore on 31st December 1993 by the 'Konkani Catholic Association Bangalore (Regd.)'

Honored at the '5th  M.M. Kumar Nite' presented by 'Milan Mongllur' at Don Bosco Hall, Mangalore on 16th April 1995, with the title 'Konkan Sangeet Shri' through the president of the function and the 'Mandd Sobhann' Gurkar Sri Eric Ozario.

A Tribute to Harry's Silver Band

Mangalore's leading musicians are now planning to revive melodies that are over 100 years old in a program called "Turbent", which is the centenary program of the band. It will be just like the old days. They will play standards such as "When the saints go marching in" and March, in full uniform, blowing their gleaming trumpets and thundering drums and cymbals. Every Mangalorean worth his salt will be there on February 12, 2006, as the saints of music go marching in.

The celebrations will start with a holy mass at 10 am in St. Francis Xavier's Church, Bejai and then in the evening at 4 pm, a procession will be held from late Lawrence D'Souza's (also fondly remembered as Lorsam, the founder of the band) residence near Jail Road, accompanied by the following tableaux - Roce and Wedding, Monthi Fest, Nathalancho Khel, Vagancho Naach, Yakshagana Bayalata and Thalim Acrobatics.  The procession will pass by Canara College, MG Road, City Corporation Office, KSRTC and back to Bejai. Stage programs will be held at 5.45 pm at the open grounds of Bejai Central School Grounds which will include felicitation to Harry D'Souza and it will end with a Brass Band Concert by 9 pm.

The brass bands play a prominent role in keeping alive the beauty and culture of the Konkani language through the art of music. Harry has worked consistently since many years in order to preserve and maintain this precious heritage of the Konkani speaking community. For all this effort, it is reasonable to expect that the people of this community should be grateful to him and also offer their help and co-operation in the continuation of this noble task.

Harry can be contacted at:
"Geeth Sangeeth Vihar",
5th Cross, Bejai New Road, Mangalore
575 004.

If you would like to support 'Turbent' or 'Harry's Silver Band Centenary Celebration', you can send your contributions to:

'Harry's Silver Band Centenary Celebration Committee'
SB Account number 11756
Karnataka Bank,
Bejai branch ,
Mangalore 575004 India

Email: silverband99@hotmail.com

Phone   91 824 2214172, 5511072
Mobile 91 9845085571.

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Austin Prabhu, USA :
It is nice to read about Lorsaab, Eddibaab and now Harrybaab continuing the family tradition in Brass Band History in Mangalore. Harry is blessed with more talents than his father and grand father. Harry composes songs of his own and also sings! All the best Harry, keep up your good work. Wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Shaly Pereira, Oman:
The drums of destiny have indeed been reverberating for three generations. Kudos to Mangalorean.com for publishing this article. Despite having enjoyed the music of Harrys Silver Band at various functions in Mangalore, this is the first time I have had the opportunity to read about their success story. And what a remarkable story! Completely fascinating. Thank you M.com. The pictures were amazing too.

We wish Harry resounding success at the Centenary celebrations on February 12th.
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