Bangalore Musical Association

The common love for European music brought together a group of both civilian and military Europeans to promote the practice and the public performance of European music. This was the founding of the Bangalore Musical Association [BMA]. The British Music Society was started around 100 years ago, by this small group of Europeans inspired by their undying love for music. To these pioneers is paid homage, were it not for their musical zeal, the BMA would not be in existence today. Music knows no bars, barriers, or boundaries. The BMA is adequate proof . People from all communities and walks of life have been in one way or the other associated with this choir. Father Vampeen and other distinguished names such as Sir and Lady Coleman were part of this Choir.

During the days of World War II, the society used to meet in the house of Mr. and Mrs. Fewkes, who was also the Organist of St. Mark's Church. Later the society met at St. Andrew's Church in the parish Hall on Monday's and Thursday's.

A rich collection of Orchestral, Choral, Part-song, Sacred and Secular music of the great masters and well renowned contemporary composers are shown in the 16 page inventory printed in 1938.

The name of the Society was changed to the Bangalore Musical Association in 1930 and has retained so ever since, popularly known as the BMA.

The society has also produced Operettas and sponsored visiting groups both Indian and Foreign. The present group of the BMA has performed Choral works of the Great Masters of the past and present. Special mention must be made of the performance of Handel's Messiah and Mozart's First Mass with Orchestral Accompaniment. This interpretation has won them laudable acclaim from the press in India. Besides classical renditions, the group has catered to the lovers of light classical, folk and operatic music.

Mr. Walter Nathaniel an accomplished Organist was the first Indian Musical Director , taking over from Mr. Van der holt in 1950. In 1945, he started singing tenor in the BMA - the only Indian choir member. In 1951, he was requested to conduct the BMA as its first Indian Conductor. Essentially a deep-rooted classical musician, he was fluent in any type of music both serious and light. He was an music elegant accompanist and a brilliant conductor. He accompanied many students for violin who appeared for the Royal School of Music and Trinity College of Music exams.

In 1964 Maestro J.T. William Joseph took over as the Director and Conductor of the BMA and remained so until his death in 1995.

This period saw the BMA excel in its performance and was widely acclaimed by the press. The BMA also began travelling to various parts of India to spread and arouse love for classical, music.

Printed music being difficult to get the Maestro had no choice but to arrange and compose for the BMA. Most of the musicians of Bangalore were at one time or another associated with this vibrant group. In December 1965, a joint Christmas Carol Service of Roman Catholics, the Orthodox Church, and the Protestants was held. In December 1969 and Ecumenical Christmas program was conducted at the Town Hall, in song, dance and drama with a massed choir of about 100 voices. Since then the BMA has been organising festivals for Choirs every year during the Christmas period and sometimes during Easter.

Maestro J.T.William Joseph , a very eminent musician, he learnt his first Do, Re, Me, from his father The Rev. William Joseph, who was also an accomplished pipe organist and violinist. He gave his first violin recital at the age of seven accompanied on the piano by his father, another eminent musician, at the Convent of St. Mary's at KGF in 1941.

"J.T." as he was lovingly called was also the Western Music Director in the Indian Army. He was a master of almost all musical instruments and has to his credit repairing many a Pipe- Organ.

As the Music Director of the Baldwin Boy's High School, he started the school Brass Band that was the first of its kind in the State. The Brass Band also has the rare distinction of being invited to participate in the Republic Day Parade at New Delhi in 1964 and 1967.

His music had a very wide range as he could shift from Classical to Jazz, to Pop, to Indian Music with ease. Mention must be made of the standing ovation he got when he played "Somewhere over the Rainbow" on the Trumpet at the Planters Association Ball.

During his tenure as Director and Conductor of the BMA, the Choir widened its repertoire in music performing some of his choral arrangements of some of the well known Indian Folk Songs. He composed the music for the Kannada Version of the Operetta "Three Penny Opera." He also composed and directed the music for one Hindi and one Kannada Movie. The highlight of his career came when his composition was selected at the International Eucharistic Conference at Geneva.

The BMA was the first of its kind to have a Chamber Orchestra accompanying them at its performances, which was highly appreciated and acknowledged by the Press and the Public.

Taking over after the death of his father the present Director and Conductor is Ashley William Joseph The first Indian Graduate with a degree in Music from Manila, Philippines. He was also the only Indian to accompany the Asian Chorale on its concert tour of Sweden, where it performed for the King and Queen.

He conducted the Asian Chorale at the Asian Composers Conference, Manila. Performed with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philippine Madrigal Singers. Performed both as Soloist and member of the Choir under world renowned conductors. Specialized in the performance and composition of Ethnic Instruments. Performed for Television and Radio in India and Abroad. Attended Master classes in Conducting, Vocal-Techniques, Pipe-Organ and Composition. Produced and Directed many Broadway Musicals, some of which are, My Fair Lady, Man of La Mancha, Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver Twist, Sound of Music. Composed and directed the music for Tom Stoppard's "Rough Crossing".

Started the Sophia Brass Ensemble, which today can proudly boast of being the largest in the State.[ 120 strong]. Also associated with the Notre Dame Teachers Training College.

Member of the All India Freelance Journalists Association. Awarded by the Rotary Club the award for "Excellence in the Field of Music".

The BMA today consists of people from all walks of life. The age group is from 15 years to 75 years. We are glad to have Frances Lynn as the accompanist for this special celebrations. She has always been associated with the BMA for many years. An eminent musician an a accomplished pianist, she is the wife of the former Chief Secretary , Mr. J.C. Lynn. The Soloists for the performance is Dr. Marie Mascarenhas who was one of the leading doctors and child psychologist she is also the wife of another eminent personality of India. Dr. Alfred Mascarenhas who was the Dean of St. John's Medical College, and the Conductor of the Max Muller Bhavan Orchestra. Rani Williams is another soloist par excellence, she has performed in America and Nigeria. She was also a brilliant Baratnatyam dancer. Esmie Femandes has been a soloist with the BMA for many years and is a soloist that can match up with any in the world.

A glimpse of the members of the Association will tell you that truly music has no barriers, from students to computer professionals to teachers to journalists to microbiologists to retired people. This band of dedicated people come together twice a week right through the year at the All Saints Church.

Gloria in D

The Gloria in D, easily Vivaldi's most famous sacred work today, was among the works discovered at Turin, its first performance in modern times took place at Siena in 1939. Calling for a well-drilled orchestra and three female soloists, it fits nicely into the Pieta's needs. The male choristers were probably supplied by the instructional staff or a neighbouring church.

18th century Italian sacred music offers a different, but not quaint, message. 18th century Italy, like the rest of Europe, was led by a polite society endowed with powdered wigs, hoop skirts, formal gardens, and minuets, but in Italy life seems to have been more good-humoured.

The Gloria of the Mass, first sung by angels in the New Testament, is dressed by Vivaldi in the trappings of a secular world that is both light-hearted and reassuring. The orchestra entertains itself with ritornellos and forms from the concerto tradition, the soloists execute operatic roulades and aria forms, the chorus takes the dance floor for a graceful sicillano {No.6}, and the two choral fugues {Nos. 5&12} contribute some stately grandeur while eschewing severity. Vivaldi, a sickly man since his birth, surely saw enough of life's tragedies at the Pieta, but no trace of anguish can be found in music like this. Even in the face of hardship, the ethos of playful optimism prevails. This quality - perhaps a spiritual peacefulness as well as an aesthetic stance - was surely the most priceless gift the IItalian school left to Mozart ... and us.

Adapted David Crawford

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Thought for the Day:" Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, Fon in the manner their fathers did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did they fathers to the false prophets." Holy Bible: Luke 6:20-26