Meet M Samuel Abeysekera, a music composer who thrives on the Christmas motif and composes not less than two new songs each Christmas
For 5 years within the mid-Fifties, M Samuel Abeysekera performed the piano within the worship providers twice every week at Madras Christian School, the place he studied. He was the accompanist for the John Millns Singers and the John Millns Chorale, led by the late Jabez Janagaraj, for 4 a long time. The Tamil Nadu Authorities Employees Choir and Secretariat Fellowship Choir additionally loved his providers on the pipe organ and piano in St Mary’s Church, Fort St George, for many years till he retired as a Joint Secretary to the State Authorities of Tamil Nadu.
To crown all of it, Abeysekera, 82, has been the organist and choir director of the CSI Wesley English Church, St Thomas Mount, for the final 64 years. To cite John Fredric, a famous bass, “I feel Abey uncle holds the document for the longest serving choirmaster in Chennai. I deeply admire his love and fervour for church music.”
This octogenarian musician is a byword in Tamil Christian houses throughout the globe, because the founder-director of The Three Chords, the famed gospel trio of the seventies and eighties. The composer, pianist and choir conductor is an epitome of humility and has a great wit in addition.
His father, late Rev James Muthiah, was the presbyter on the Tamil Wesley Church in Royapettah within the Forties when Abeysekera started as an eight-year-old boy soprano. He had the chance to play the piano in Wesley College, however when its headmaster locked it up, Rev Muthiah bought the piano for his son. Although practically 70 years in the past, Abeysekera nonetheless remembers the day, “I used to be so excited, I introduced my cot to the room the place the piano was and went to sleep with my hand resting on it that night time. I awoke at 5 am and started enjoying the keys till my mom got here and shushed me.”
Although his father was eager he ought to play classical music, Abeysekera most popular the sunshine selection. His first attempt was on the previous Tamil hit, “Iyyahsaami, aavojisaami”! As soon as he joined the Secretariat, he discovered amongst his colleagues three like-minded gents desperate to sing Christian hymns and songs: Sam Rajkumar (melody), Reuben Theodore (tenor) and Jeyakumar Israel (bass). Thus was fashioned The Three Chords in 1970, with Abeysekera as composer-accompanist who wrote the songs, tuned and performed them. In 1974, Sam was changed by Edwin Paul. The trio was one of many first teams to sing Tamil gospel songs in concord in Chennai.
Then Abeysekera thought he would attempt his hand at composition. He opened the Bible to Psalm 1 and out got here ‘Dhunmaarkarodu pazhagaamalum’. Ultimately, 10 lovely songs emerged from the Psalms alone, together with the favored ‘Maananadhuneerodai-yai’ and ‘Devan illai yendru madhikedan solluginraan’.
The current trio consists of Sanjeev Mervyn, Ernest Sundar and Winston Isaac.
Bharati Paul, a well known Tamil gospel singer, who has sung a number of of Abeysekera’s compositions, calls him a born musician. Ebenezer Stephen, organist, Anbunathar Lutheran Church, Chennai, shares, “His prowess on the keys impressed me to suppose out of the field. As a church organist, I’d at all times go strictly by rating (notations), till I learnt from uncle that there’s rather a lot to experiment with music.”
Abeysekera launched 4 cassettes of his authentic compositions within the Eighties and ‘90s. Not too long ago, he has additionally launched three CDs of his songs and two books of sheet music with the assistance of his daughter Hannah Lauvanya, son-in-law Felix Chandran and bass artiste, Winston Isaac. The gross sales proceeds of these things go to charity.
Christopher Sherwood, choir director, Madurai Choristers and The American School Choir, says, “I see him as an individual who has certified himself to be the recipient of such nice melodies that can’t be produced by mere human effort.”
By no means one to take a seat idle for a second, even through the lockdown, the Mount Wesley English Church choir below his management has been releasing evergreen hits like ‘En Aathumavae nee’ and ‘Mannor Mozhiyil Paesinaalum’, on-line. His spouse, daughter and son-in-law additionally sing in the identical choir.Because the world nonetheless reels below the pandemic, this Christmas season has turn out to be extra significant than earlier than. “ Christmas is a celebration of hope, pleasure, peace and love — the whole lot that the world desperately wants this yr. For some time it appeared like the standard Christmas music scene is not going to be taking place due to COVID-19, however due to know-how, musicians have been capable of put pleasure again into this pageant. Simply goes to point out that nothing can beat the spirit of Christmas, not even a virus!” he concludes.