Mangaluru’s Balmatta Music Association: In tune for a century

Mangaluru’s Balmatta Music Association has nurtured choral music for nearly a century. Walking through the old missionary town of Balmatta on Sunday can be quite an experience as melodious sounds of the choir fill your ears. The BMA was founded in 1926 and presented compositions by European masters including Handel, Mendelssohn, Bach, Beethoven and Mozart.

“It is one of the longest serving music associations in the country,” says former CSI Bishop Dr CL Furtado. “The BMA has always been a voluntary organisation, rendering professional service without expecting any remuneration or reward. All directors, musicians, and singers offered their talent and time willingly.”

“Many of our members have turned conductors and directors of choirs, such as Ezra Joshua, J Amoda, Theodore Melville, Godwin Weltha, Salisbury Neethi and Denzil Karkada,” says Oscar Weltha, the present director of the BMA and the conductor of the choir. “They also branched out into pop, rock, jazz, R&B and reggae. After performing with our choir, finding the right chord in any other form of music is child’s play which is how Balmatta has produced a number of musicians who have rocked the coastal music scene.”

Mangaluru’s Balmatta Music Association: In tune for a century

Earlier, German and Swiss missionaries taught Indian youngsters Western music and identified people who could carry on the tradition. However, after World War I, when the missionaries returned home, there was no one to train students. “Our forefathers took up the challenge of preserving, nurturing and developing the tradition with local resources. Thus the BMA was founded in 1926, a year before the missionaries were allowed to return to India, in smaller numbers with limited resources,” says Furtado.

Apart from classical music, BMA also celebrates popular singers. A prominent member of the association, the late Max Karkada, specialised in Jim Reeves songs and there would be a commemoration every year on Reeves’ death anniversary. “Mangaluru is the only city in the world apart from Tennessee in USA that pays homage to Jim every year,” says Daniel Rodrigues, a long-time associate of Karkada.

Musicians from BMA specialised in music of Tom Jones, Elvis Presley, Engelbert Humperdinck, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Matt Munroe, Harry Belafonte and many others.

“The next 10 years will be crucial. We have already put our minds together to reach a century with a bang. This can happen only if more youngsters shoulder the responsibility of taking forward the spirit of BMA,” Sydney Salins, president of the BMA sums up.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 3:51:54 PM |

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