The Abreo Prodigies! Concert by 2 Plus 9 Kudla Origin Abreo’s Family-USA
The Abreo Prodigies! Loneliness causes Heart Attack; Music Rejuvenates-says Dr Gerald Abreo. The Largest Violin playing family in the world is on Native (Mangaluru) Tour. Violin Recital and Concert by 2 Plus 9 Kudla Origin Abreo’sFamily, Houston, Texas-USA at The Little Sisters of the Poor (Home for the Elderly)- Bajjodi, Mangaluru at 3.30 pm tomorrow, 15 June 2017. For more details contact: 0824-2215269; 9341122044, 9880809734, 94482339682. Only Limited seats available- so come early and grab your seats!
“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 wholehearted human beings.”- .Here we have a wholehearted 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 recital and concert performance.
Mangaluru: ‘Aarathigobba Magalu, Keerthigobba Maga’ is the ancient adage in Kannada “Aarathi gobba magalu, kirthi gobbamaga”-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. In the present scenario for ‘Keerthi’ one son is required is heard a lot. In addition to seeking of son, plastic free environment, child labor is often discussed in and around us. But it does not seem to work very well in few cases – 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 Press Meet held at HAMSmart Sports Shop, City Centre Mall, Mangaluru on 14 June.
The “Abreo Kids” -they’re a real, flesh-and-blood clan of children ages 3 to 18, 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.
It is really surprising to note that, parents in America are having a tough time raising even one or two kids, but here we are looking at an Indian-American couple raising not one/two but nine children – that’s amazing, and I compliment the Abreo couple for being strong parents, dedicated and loving to their kids- and for being TRUE Catholics, and having a large God fearing family. To raise more than two or three kids in the 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.
Yes, we should be proud that the largest violin playing family in the world has its roots in Mangaluru. Although the family of Dr Gerard Abreo and Nicole Abreo and their nine children are settled in Texas, USA, the family are presenting a model to the Non-Resident Indians by keeping themselves connected and associated with their native place. The family of nine children and their parents and grandparents keep constant contact with their native roots and relations. Every two years, Abreo family with all the children come down to their hometown, Mangaluru for few days. Visiting institutions for the destitute, aged and poor and playing the violin for them, the family finds the greatest joy of being with people. The children take care of themselves. Hence there are no servants in Abreo 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 the 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 the mother of nine kids, she is a very good housewife and does all the housework and babysitting 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 (18 yrs), who plans to be a physician; Daniel Francis (17), wants to become an Engineer; Christine Marie (15), looks forward to being a Doctor; Maria Therese (13), likes to be a teacher; Jane Elizabeth (11), Rachel Ann (9), John Paul (7), Luke Walter (5) and ‘Baba” Joseph (3) (they are too young to make their future academic decision). All the kids 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 “Concertmaster” (First Violin) for 2013 and 2014. In the recent years, they have also won quite a few laurels and appreciations for their music performances. They have accompanied the adult church choirs during Christmas and Easter Mass and have 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 an anonymous saying. When I asked Gerard how their children developed an 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 our blood”.
The family has always attracted attention simply because of the large brood that goes everywhere together. “We are used to the attention. Moving around with nine kids with their musical instruments in tow is quite rare and naturally invites attention,” beams the Cardiologist, who then adds laughing: “In fact, when we were travelling to Dubai couple of years ago, the security guard at the airport could not hide his inquisitiveness and asked me if all the nine were my children. When I said yes, the man wanted to know if they were from the same mother! Then he wanted to meet the mother as he had mistaken even Nicole, my wife, to be one of the kids.” The family has a 12-passenger truck in the US that “comes in handy” when they travel. Michael, aged 18, who is the eldest has assumed charge of the driver’s seat. The responsibility of bringing up nine children is shared by the couple though, their training in music is shouldered solely by Nicole. The children are homeschooled till class seven and their music training begins once they turn three, explains Nicole.
Seeing them play live two years ago in Mangaluru at the same location that they are performing tomorrow (15 June), 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 Mangaluru 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 was enthralled by the performance of this group when they gave a splendid 30 mins violin performance. So come tomorrow and witness the nonet along with their parents perform live.
For the Abreo family, there are “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 Abreos, and now that the couple has nine kids (nonet)- And who’s to say there won’t be more to come! Long live the Happy Abreo family!