“Violins play from their heart..Music speaks what cannot be expressed..Soothes the mind and keeps us in harmony with nature..Heals the heart and makes us whole hearted human beings.”- .Here we have a whole hearted music family of Abreos comprising of Dr Gerard and Nicole Abreo (originally from Mangaluru) and nine of their children who have come down to Mangaluru from Houston-Texas, USA to give a splendid violin performance.
Mangaluru : “Aarti gobba magalu, kirti gobba maga”-No Way?. A sentence painted behind trucks or auto-rickshaws most often-” We Two, Ours Two (“Hum do, hamare do” in Hindi) is a slogan meaning one family, two children and is intended to reinforce the message of family planning thereby aiding population control in India. It does not seem to work very well – and for that matter we have an example here where the Abreo couple ignoring this slogan went ahead and had nine lovely, bubbly and beautiful kids-keeping in mind a large family is always a happy and fun family. So meet the Abreo Clan – Dad, Mom and their nine siblings. I had the opportunity to meet this “happy family” at the birthday bash of “Mom Abreo” which was celebrated at the “Lobo’s River View”-Morgan’s gate here on Tuesday, 23 June night.
The “Abreo Kids” -they’re a real, flesh-and-blood clan of children ages 1 to 16, and all musicians just like their dad who was a renowned jazz player during his younger days, and mom who is an excellent piano player, who had followed in her father’s footsteps- her dad Gerard Joseph Lobo residing at ” Sangeeth Vihar”-Bejai in the City is a music maestro, who plays Violin, Guitar, Accordion, Clarinet, and other musical instruments has trained his children to play various musical instruments.
Being in US for the last 23 years I have seen that parents in America are having a tough time raising even one or two kids, but here we are looking at a Indian American couple raising not one/two but nine children-that’s amazing, and I compliment the Abreo couple for being a strong parents, dedicated and loving to their kids. To raise more than two or three kids in USA without any financial drawbacks etc etc, you have to either be a doctor or a rich man- and for that matter “Dad Abreo” fits in both the categories- and he can do it . Congratulations to “Dad and Mom Abreo” for raising nine beautiful kids with love, affection, care, and imbibing in them the musical talents. The “Abreo Family” is no doubt a happy and fun family to be appreciated and followed by all of us as an example as to how to have and raise a large family.
“Dad Abreo”- Dr Gerard Abreo hailing from Kulshekar here is presently a well-known Cardiologist in Houston-Texas, USA. After completing his college studies at St Aloysius College, he did his MBBS at St John’s Medical College-Bengaluru, after which he immigrated to US for better prospects. Gerard was a cricketer in college days and has played with great players like G R Vishwanath, Roger Binny, Brijesh Patel and many others. But ultimately, he gave up a sporting career to become a cardiac surgeon. Gerald was also a drummer during his college days. In Bengaluru, during his teenage days, Gerard was a renowned jazz player having performed at various shows and receiving huge applauds from the audience. He says it was just a hobby which he developed as a stress-buster while studying. Presently he has been working as a specialist and expert consultant on Cardiology and heart related diseases.
“Mom Abreo”- Nicole Abreo is the daughter of Gerard Joseph Lobo and Hazel Lobo of “Sangeeth Vihar”-Bejai here, and her uncle is FM Lobo, also a great violinist and owner of Cascia Tile Factory/Lobo River View. Other than mother of nine kids, she is a very good housewife and does all the house work and baby-sitting her siblings without any maid help. Let’s call her a “Super-Mom!”. Nicole too is blessed with an extraordinary talent in playing the piano. Madam Nicole had graduated in Music from University of Toronto, Canada, and also had her early and college education in Canada, since her parents had immigrated to Canada from Mangaluru decades ago.
Now coming to the best part of the story- introducing the nine precious siblings of the Abreo dynasty-they are Michael Joseph (16 yrs), Daniel Francis (15), Christine Marie (13), Maria Therese (11), Jane Elizabeth (9), Rachel Ann (7), John Paul (5), Luke Walter (3) and ‘Baba” Joseph (1). All the kids, accept tiny Joseph are doing their schooling in Houston-Texas schools, and each child usually starts playing the violin when they are around 3 yrs old. Their first training is done at home with the mother being their music teacher for one year before starting weekly lessons with their professional music teacher. And the best part is that seven of the kids play the piano. Nicole’s patience in teaching is amazing,” says Gerard, whose role is to be a good listener and give encouragement, though he too was part of a family band in the late ’70s in Bengaluru. Called the Abreo quartet, his sister Patricia played the banjo, brothers David and Peter the guitar and the tambourine, and Gerry (Gerard) the drums.
Michael, daniel, Christine and Maria were selected for 2013 and 2014 “Region”, where they auditioned among the 400 middle and high school violinists, from which 40 got selected to play in the main concert. Christine was selected as “Concert master” (First Violin) for 2013 and 2014. They have accompanied the adult church choirs during Christmas and Easter Mass and nave annual recitals with their teachers/students. They were members of Bay Area symphony, from which a competition was conducted and Christine was placed First and Daniel Second. Congratulations, little Abreo Fiddlers!
While I was discussing with dad and mom Abreos, how they manage with their nine kids- they said that living with nine children at home can be exhausting: “Of course, but it works out — the kids give you energy. When you feel you can’t go on, you find a place deep down inside. More children means more joy and the children grow with fine values. Ours is a Happy family. We keep our children attached to music, which keeps them busy, and less trouble to us. Our children also play the piano, as learning it enhances their music-reading skills. We decided to train Michael on the violin, because we felt that the difficulty in learning the instrument would result in discipline, and that would spill over to his education and moral values. The other children followed him”.
“Music is like a river, it starts somewhere and reaches somewhere and in the course it will touch the hearts of millions of people. It is like a religion so piously regarded, followed and practiced..”- is a anonymous saying. When I asked Gerard how their children developed interest in music, he said, “My wife is a graduate in music. She wanted her children to learn music at a young age and thus, all children play the violin. Our family has staged various performances especially in convents and orphanage homes. I often plan my vacations to my hometown Mangaluru, because I want to show children the values and cultures of my homeland. No doubt, for Abreo family music runs in their blood.
Last Sunday, 21 June 2015, the Abreo septet had performed after the Sunday mass at The Holy Ghost Church, Fraser Town-Bengaluru, where the 7 kids with their violins under their chins, had given the open-mouthed audience a 20-minute rendition of solos, duets and medleys. Like one Bengaluru reporter has aptly said, “It was the Von Trapp family re-visited, but with a twist. They were not bringing the hills of Salzburg alive to the ‘Sound of Music’, but to our city, a haven for music lovers”. The finale at the Bengaluru performance, rendered with rare precision, was composed by Michael for which he selected sections of each sibling’s recital pieces and put it into a medley, and then added it to the theme song, ‘Palliado’. The Mangaluru audience too will be enthralled by the performance of this septet group, when they give a splendid violin performance this evening (24 June 2015) at 4pm at The Little Sisters of the Poor-Bajjodi. Every performance of this septet is for charity.
For the Abreo family there is “No Holidays” for Music, for it is part of their everyday life. Abreo Music flows from Heaven to every soul in their vicinity, it touches everyone in the same frequency-and it brings everyone in a common thread called humanity. The Abreo family say that they feel like one family as they behave one with everyone..beholding the beauty of love and affection for entire mankind. The tradition lives on with the junior Abreos, though the septet will soon swell to a nonet when Luke and Joseph grow up. And who’s to say there won’t be more to come!
At Mangaluru, the Abreo Violin Family will perform on Wednesday the 24th June, 2015 at Little Sisters of Poor, Bajjodi, Mangalore – 2 (Tel: 0824-2215269). You are cordially invited. You are requested to be in your seats by 3:45 p.m. For details contact 0824-2215269 (Bajjodi) & 9341122044 (F M Lobo)