Doyen of Bengali Christian Music & Drama Remembered

Panelsists L to R; Dilip Rosario, Sadhana Karali, Prasanta Singha, Bijoy Singha & Sr Emilia Gomes.

KOLKATA,  (C.M. Paul) – A two day programme is being held in Kolkata to mark first birth centenary of the doyen of Bengali Christian devotional music and drama. The events being held at Prahu Jisu Girja Kolkata, 26 & 27 November 2011 is in honour of Nicholas Singha of Basanti (South 24 Parganas) popularly known as Nicholas Master.

Born on 21 September 1911 Nicholas Master was teacher and boarding master at St Teresa’s parish Basanti. Besides being a veteran catechist, Nicholas Master was a pioneer composer, lyricist of Bengali liturgical music and a singer, as well as an accomplished dramatist and actor.

First day’s programme consisted of a discussion on late Nicholas Master who died on 9 September 1957 and his contribution to Christian Music and Drama by five eminent panelists.

Coadjutor archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Kolkata hands over Nicholas Singha birth centenary souvenir book and a CD containing his songs to Sr Emilia Gomes DSA, 26 November 2011.

Discussion started off with a testimony by former Superior General of the Daughters of St Anne (DSA) Sr Emilia Gomes on Nicholas Master’s music contribution to DSA Sisters in Evangelization work. She testified that Nicholas Master taught music regularly at St Mary’s School Entally to DSA Sisters and boarding girls among whom were also girls fromBangladesh, then undividedBengal.

Another panelist, Nicholas Master’s eldest son Mr Prasanta Singha narrated his father’s contribution to the Christian music along with Yugoslavian Jesuit missionary Fr Vizzar and Upendra Nath (Upen Master).

Third panelist, a research scholar Miss Sadhana Karali highlighted the contribution of Nicholas Master as a dramatist and actor who played lead male-roles in 18 religious and 16 historical dramas he had scripted.

“It is in deed a pity that none of those dramas survived,” she lamented.

Those days there used to be only one hand written copy of the drama script while actors copied down their parts which were thrown away after the performance including the prompter’s copy. Some jealously guarded drama copies fell into burglar’s hands who had no use of them… and were lost.

Mr Bijoy Singha, Nicholas Master’s third son who graduated from Shantiniketan highlighted his father’s contribution to Christian Music. Nicholas Master’s 98 hymns for congregational singing have been identified. They include songs for sung Mass and can be found in hymn books currently in use such as Geeth Sanjoy (Kolkata-Baruipur), Amar Sahachor (Krishnanagr) and Pobitro Crus (Bangladesh).

The fifth panelist Mr Dilip Rozario spoke on the relevance of Nicholas Master in Liturgy and Christian devotional music.

The panel discussion was interspersed with songs from Nicholas Matser’s compositions rendered byPicnicGardenparish choir.

Chief guest Coadjutor archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata released a souvenir in Bengali and a CD containing Nicholas Master’s songs from a 1950s recording.

Some 250 people participated first day’s events organized by director of Archdiocesan Liturgy Commission Kolkata Fr Sunil Rosario.

The second day programme includes solemn Eucharistic concelebration marking silver jubilee of the priestly ordination of Jesuit Fr Timir Singha, Nicholas Master’s fourth and youngest son. There is a special tribute to Nicholas Master by kirtan samrat Fr Pankaj Poty and his troupe from Baruipur. Bishop Salvador Lobo of Baruipur and Kolkata Jesuit provincial Fr Jeyaraj Veluswamy will grace the occasion.

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