As good an excuse as any….


Even when going for something related to music, one needs to find some other ‘peg’ in it. Say, some photos to be clicked or the promise of an interview. Thursday evening was different. Longtime cyber-friend (even if we disagree over some issues) and Goa Engineering College alumni Joao Paulo (John Paul) Cota, now based in London and sometime a Goanetter, invited me to the 100th birth centenary celebrations of his grand-dad Maestro Jose Santana Cota (b 1906) on December 28 at his village of Santa Cruz (Tiswadi).

John-Paul has kept close contact over the years, and one can’t but help appreciate his initiative in promoting concepts like the Goan Musical Society there. HIs grand-dad, known as Mestre Cota, learnt violin in his parochial school at Betalbatim, went to Bombay to play in the cinema during the silent era, and returned home early.

For much of his 83 years, he taught and played a generation and more of Goans. He was Mestre-Capela at Santa Cruz (Tiswadi), led bands and choirs, taught music to priests-to-be and at Don Bosco’s in Panjim, performed on Emisorra Goa (Wikipedia: Goa was once home to the Emissora Goa, a powerful radio station that was widely listened to when this small region was still a Portuguese colony. After the end of Portuguese rule, this station was replaced by a station from the All India Radio network.), and more. Leave his mark he did. “They’re the musical family of Santa Cruz,” as my friend Marian explained.

His compositions include the funeral marches Lagrimas de Oiro and Ultimo Caminho, and the Marchas Populares. After a few (but not short) speeches, the evening saw a mix of Latin brass band, mandde, violin, flute, deknni, an English Carol, and even “operatic style manddo” and “rhapsody dulpod”.

Now how more demonstrative of Goa’s diversity, and its melting-pot nature, can that get?

Young Chriselle Mendonca put up a solo performance of Cezar Franck’s Panis Angelicus (Wikipedia: Panis Angelicus is one of three hymn texts written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi as part of a complete liturgy of the Feast including prayers for the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours), while Joao-Paulo was spirited in his performance among the brass band playing the ‘Marcha de Santa-Cruz’.

Before the intermission (with a spell of ‘tombola’, what else!) the Rachol Seminary Choir, suited and suave, put up a creditable performance of the Marshal Bartholomew-arranged African-American spiritual “Keep in the Middle of the Road”.

One had to run, for no other reason than it was getting late. Riza had made friends with some girls, and they were all playing ‘catching cook’ at 9 pm! December-end dew enveloped our two-wheeler seat, as we got back to the vehicle. An entertaining evening.

Nice to see expats (and locals) taking the lead in building skills in a sphere where Goa once held sway. For sure, the Net can play a role in building awareness about this. Lot more is possible.

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