‘This Is My Dream Come True’-Evergreen Trumpeter Harry D’souza after Receiving Rajyotsava Award

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‘This Is My Dream Come True’-Evergreen Trumpeter 71-year-old Harold “Harry” Cyril D’Souza after Receiving ‘Rajyotsava Award 2021’ on 1 November in Bengaluru from Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai- and it was a perfect Birthday Gift for Him since he celebrated his 71 st Birthday on 21 October

Mangaluru: It was indeed a proud moment for people of Dakshina Kannada & Mangaluru, that three awardees for “RAJYOTSAVA AWARD 2021” were selected from DK/Mangaluru, and one among them was HAROLD “HARRY” CYRIL D’SOUZA, aged 71, selected in the Music field and the other two awardees are Dr Suresh Rao in Medicine field and Ramachandra Baikampady in Environment field. Popularly known as “Harry”, a resident of Bejai, Mangaluru, he served from 1982 as the Brass Band Master in “Harry’s Silver Band” started by his grandfather and has served as trumpet player and singer locally, nationally and in Gulf countries.

Harry has also worked with more than 20 music groups and has provided musical training in Saanidhya Special School, Shakthinagar, Mangaluru and St Agnes School Institution, Bendore, Mangaluru. After retiring from the Brass Band, Harry’s aim is to promote brass band art which is losing popularity and train more and more people in the art and also conduct Brass Band training in schools.

Pepere.. Pepere doom? That’s right, and I still remember my younger days when no Catholic Roce or wedding ceremony was complete without a brass band – Christian weddings were considered incomplete without their performance. But gone are those fun days of nostalgic and traditional music, because in these days of deafening music produced so effortlessly by club DJs, hearing real melody is increasingly a rarity. All you hear these days at a Roce or Catholic wedding reception is non-tradition Bollywood or explicit Rap music. Especially music played by the homegrown country brass bands that resonate in the air long after everybody falls silent. These days the bands are coming down in numbers, falling prey to competition from events: A pity since players are trained artists with a thorough background in music.

HAROLD “HARRY” CYRIL D’SOUZA

Today no function is complete or considered ‘gahmmat’ without that unique blend of music characterized by the melodious and foot-stomping beat of Brass Bands. The demand for their presence at all weddings, processions and other joyful occasions speaks for itself. Unlike regular music group bands that can pump out a lot of sound with just a guitar and expensive system, brass bands are interesting because of the variety of traditional, wind instruments that they play, like a trumpet, saxophone, clarinet and drums. Despite all the odds and influence of western culture and music, it is nice to know that there are still a few brass bands in and around Mangaluru, that cater to the needs of people who still crave for some good old traditional brass band music.

When a brass band plays at a function, it’s as if the audience–dancing, singing to the refrain, laughing–is part of the band. They are two parts of the same thing. The dancers interpret, or it might be better to say literally embody, the sounds of the band, answering the instruments. Since everyone is listening to different parts of the music–she to the trumpet melody, he to the bass drum, she to the trombone or Saxophone–the audience is a working model in three dimensions of the music, a synesthetic transformation of materials.

And of course, the band is also watching the dancers, and getting ideas from the dancers’ gestures. The relationship between band and audience is in that like the relationship between two lovers making love, where cause and effect become very hard to see, even impossible to call by its right name; one is literally getting down, as in particle physics, to some root stratum where one is freed from the lock stop of time itself, where time might even run backwards, or sideways, and something eternal and transcendent is accessed. That’s the fun of having a “homegrown country” brass band at an occasion, rather than a DJ spinning some techno and hip-hop music.

And one person among many others, who had entertained the crowd at Catholic Roce or a wedding reception for over 45 years is none other than Harry D’Souza aka “Harryaam”, the evergreen trumpeter of His Brass Band “Harry’s Silver Band” – and even though he sold his business to different band members, but Harryaam on special request does make his appearances at a Catholic or few other joyous occasions, where he still makes his presence felt, and brings back his brass band music alive, improvised and modernized so that it is accepted by one and all.

Served in District Armed Reserve Police

Smartly dressed in trendy and colourful uniforms, and armed with their shiny brass instruments, the entry of Harry’s band into any venue brought 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. Years ago, Harry has given musical programs over Akashvani station in Mangaluru 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.

L-R: Rohan (L) married to Henrita (R- Harry’s daughter), Harry D’Souza, Hubert (L-Harry’s Son) married to Jeevitha (R), Agnes (Harry’s Wife), Hazel (L-Daughter of Harry) married to Deviprasad (R). In front- Miss Sionah (Daughter of Rohan/Henrita)

Harryaam who was also the member of “United Artists” music group, under the able leadership of music maestro F M Lobo, and Himself, both residents of Bejai, Mangaluru had entertained inmates of Old-Age Homes, Ashrams, and NGO’s free of cost, thereby putting miles of smiles on these less fortunate people, and also making a difference in their lives. And for such a person like Harryaam, the best way to show appreciation, the Karnataka government did the right thing by conferring the 2021 Rajyotsava Award on him. Harry has entertained so many people with his music. His musical talents and singing should be appreciated, and youngsters should follow in his footsteps. Brass Band musicians like Harryaam are hard to find these days, and the tradition of brass band fun has been lost.

Sources reveal that 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. Lorsam married Marceline Rodrigues and had two children. He had trained his son Edi (Ediyaab) to play the band at a young age and Edi was attending 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 eyesight 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. 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 repairer’s 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.

In this interim, he married Stella Mary Rodrigues and seven years later, Harry was born. 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. From 1953 to 1982, under Ediyab’s able leadership, the ‘Silver Jubilee Band’ became famous and earned a lot of praise for its excellent services in many surrounding regions like Chikmagalur, Sakleshpur, Ujire, Belthangady, Balehonnur, Hirebail, Madikeri and Somwarpet. Even though the demise of his wife in 1980 brought him immense grief, Ediyab worked hard 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 then 32 years old. Ediyab played for the funeral of his friend, 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.

Hailing from the Third Generation, born on 21 October 1950 Harry D’Souza had his schooling at St Francis Xavier School, Bejai and St Aloysius High 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. 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 named Hubert Joswey was born to them. Hazel Reena, now married and working as a teacher in Dubai; & Henrita Rashmi, married and who was employed in Bahrain, has come down for good to Mangaluru and works in a private office; and has one son and a daughter; Hubert is working in Dubai. Harry not only managed his band, but was also a part-time band teacher at Raj Academy School, Ganjimutt-Bajpe, and Saanidhya Special school, Shakthinagar, Mangaluru. Until now, he has taught band lessons at over 80 schools in Mangaluru, Sirsi, Hubli, Dandeli and a few other places.

But music was in Harry’s blood. He was never happy unless he was singing or playing in the band. After returning from the Gulf he 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’s Country Band was a tribute to Lorsam’s worthy legacy. As he sings on the stage, Harry’s 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. Harry says that he is making attempts to retain the original style of Konkani music and in this work. 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 honour? a blessing to shine as SILVER if not like gold!

Not only a trumpet player and a Band Master, Harry is also a music and song composer-he has written over 700 songs in three languages, composed over 3000 tunes in Konkani, Kannada, Tulu, and has taken part in various radio and out-door concerts-he is also the author of a book of poems titled ‘Goveth’ , and has released ten music cassettes. Harry had a guest appearance in the Konkani movie ‘Mog Ani Moipas’. Harry has many awards to his credit, namely- “Karavali KalaShree Award 2018”; “Thomas Steven Konkan Kendra Karwar Gharane Award 2017”; ‘DK Zilla Rajyotsava Award 2013’; ‘Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy Award 2002’, ‘Konkan Karaval Turbent Rai 2006 (KGWA-Kuwait), ‘Kalakar Puraskar Award 2007, ‘Sandesha Special Award 2008’ – also ‘Konkan Sangeeth Shree 1995’ and ‘Konkan Band of the Century 1996’.

He also led the first Vishwa Konkani Sammelan in 1995, and also in welcoming Saint Mother Teresa during her visit to Mangaluru in 1995. Harry and his 55 members strong group performed at the “Porab” event in 1992 which brought him fame and name. Mandd Sobhann ( Regd.) had organized the Konkani cultural program ‘Saanth’ from November 6th to 21st, 1993 at Nehru Maidan, Mangaluru. In this program, Harry played his band in the special procession carrying ‘Vojem’ from the Lighthouse 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. 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. These are just a couple of performances among many Harry had showcased his trumpeting talents, and had earned praises from all quarters.

Ever since the conception of Akashvani in Mangaluru till the year 1979, Harry has contributed his programs of songs and music. He has also taken part in programs produced by others. Harry’s Century Brass Band was one popular and traditional brass band that has surely pleased and won the hearts of people, especially Mangalurgars. Probably no other brass band has survived and played such a prominent part for three generations in this coastal side of the state, than Harry’s band. 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

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 for decades 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, during his retired life with no income coming in.. 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 had kept Harry’s Brass Band popularity intact for all these years. And my request is, “If you are still able to, Harryaam keep blowing your trumpet, don’t quit. In the meantime, it’s high time somebody blows their trumpet?”

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1 Comment

  1. I remember one Markam (Mr. Mark) who was related to Mr. Harry’s father. He was also owning a brass band was staying opposite to the Assisi home near the jail road Bejai. He was a part time tailor by profession and had a tailoring shop near to his house .We used to stitch our clothes from him in the 1970’s .A hardworking person and was a competitor to Ediyam for the brass band for marriages and functions. But life for was a struggle with a big family to fend ans as the brass band was seasonal restricted to March – May period or Dec- Jan. He died in the beginning of 90’s and the band got closed.

    I take this opportunity to wish Mr. Harry for getting honored by the Karnataka government with the Rajyotsava award and wish him all the best in years to come

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