Oswald D’Souza’s Music Album Vol 8 to be Released on April 7
Mangaluru: In the Konkani fine arts sector of our coastal region, Oswald D’Souza, who proudly carries the tag of his place of origin – Valencia – is certainly a brand-name by now.
In spite of being based in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman for about four decades, his heart still beats for his mother-tongue, Konkani.
Born in a musically-inclined family in Souterpet of Valencia, he and his three brothers – the late Marcel, Albert and Apolinaris – and three sisters, Natalia, the late Stella and Rita, the last one being his twin sibling, have all had been blessed with a singing flair.
Much before the Vatican brought about reforms of inculturation by allowing the use of local languages in Church services, Latin had ruled supreme by being mandatory.
The Gregorian chants in Latin music heard and were reverberating in the church instilled in the hearts of the D’Souza brothers the basics of music and notes.
Having been part of the Valencia parish choir, under the expert tutelage of then-choir master Marian Pinto during their formative years, all the brothers and sisters blossomed into fine vocal artistes.
Apolinaris – more popularly known by his short name Apolin – gradually took to music-writing. The vicinity of the Fatima Retreat House, where the legendary maestro Rev Fr Walter Albuquerque SJ was based for many years, may have helped in building a special bond with him.
This laid a firm foundation to the careers of Apolin and Oswald in particular as songwriters in the days to come.
Over the years, on the lines of his elder brother Apolin, Oswald too made a name as an accomplished singer, lyricist, music-writer, choir leader, actor, playwright and Konkani poet.
Those were the days when the much-acclaimed annual singing competitions were being held by the Konkani Natak Sabha in Don Bosco hall in fiercely competitive spirit.
These events served as a springboard to recognition for hundreds of fresh talents, who later bloomed into successful singers and musicians on their own.
Oswald earned fame by winning many prizes for his parish and training the choirs in different parishes. He has also earned many titles from different organizations.
He, at a young age, auditioned as an Akashvani artiste too. His Kannada composition, Vishala Bharata, was a runaway hit and it was being aired regularly for many years, possibly even today.
Moving to Muscat in search of greener pastures in the late 1970s, he continued his evolution as a singer and a music-writer under the wings of his brother Apolin.
In all, he has composed about 300 songs, including devotional and inspirational hymns. He has brought out seven music albums so far – namely, Jezu Kuttmacho Uzwadd (1996), Dhovye Kogllechya Manak (1997), Jezu Jivont Zala (1997), Bhagi Notal (1999), Jivit (songs from a play staged in Muscat in 2003), Parameshwara (the anthem of MCCP group in Muscat, released in 2012) and Dance Dayana Dance (social and pop songs – 2013).
He credits his evolution as a music-writer in most part to Fr Albuquerque, while also recalling the support of a few others like Cyprian Carlo, who was the organist at the Bishop’s House chapel for many years, the late Prof Bennett Pinto of Bijai and Cyprian, the former organist at Milagres.
Incidentally, Dhovi Kogull (‘White Nightingale’) is a title given to Fr Albuquerque, who is always attired in white and has given his entire life to music.
Of simple and unassuming nature, the Jesuit priest has shared his musical wealth with hundreds of his disciples without expecting anything in return.
He has inspired and moulded scores of music-writers, who have carved their own careers over the past several decades.
It is in the fitness of things that Oswald has dedicated a volume to his mentor and guru the second time. (Dhovye Kogllechya Manak in 1997 was the earlier one).
‘Gavyam Devak Dhinvasumya’ (Let’s Sing in Praise of God), Oswald’s latest album – his eighth in the line – is being released in the Sandesha hall in Premnagar Bajjodi at 4-30 pm on Thursday, April 7.
Inspiring lyrics, lilting music, innovative presentation and soul-stirring performances are the hallmark of this album. He has also introduced a few new voices, never heard in albums before.
He feels privileged that the 93-year-old Fr Walter, in spite of his age and debility, has consented to do the honours, in the presence of prominent community leaders.
by Richard Lasrado