Mangaluru, Sep 12,2016 : It was a unique and solemn occasion in the city, the ’Redemptorists’ CssR’ (explanation follows) celebrated their Jubilee, at Fatima Retreat Centre Jeppu on September 11, Sunday evening. The fortunate who heeded the call and were present for a very soul stirring presentation of 16 classical versions plus a surprise ’Konkani’ version of ’Ave Maria’ sung by the world renowned ’The Stop Gaps’. Each piece kept brief was sublimely enjoyable.
The efforts of Rev. Eugene D’Silva supported by the Provincial Rev Ivo Mendana and others of the CssR congregation was appreciated to very high degree. Many musicians of the city were seen in rapt awe and latter expressed admiration and the top notch musical presentatation. The gathering was very attentive and really appreciated the music. The venue, spacious and well oriented to the situation, Divine Mercy Church at the Retreat House was a fitting place and was packed to capacity nearly.
The world renowned choral ensemble ’The Stop Gaps’ headed by it’s leader and conductor Alfred J D’Souza, and 30 trained singers. With just an electronic key board and no trappings of the simple song presentation by four voiced arrangement was memorable evening for the large crowd that was present. The turn out was simple and superb, The ladies who as always were the connoisseur of all eyes turned out in bottle green medieval looking type gowns with hooded flower printed tops were only complimented by few the men in sober formal wear with subtle mutli coloured waist coats were a lovely matter.
Speaking to ’Mangalore Today’ before the recital, some members of ’The Stop Gaps’ to name only Dr.Sudha and Zubin.......they said it was a nice experience in Mangalore. Some of them hail from Mangalore, like Dr. Sudha and even the leader Alfred J D’Souza has Mangalurean roots. Though they come from sophisticated diverse social and religious working back grounds, they under take such missions with a down to earth simple and dedicated life style as could be observed. They had also given a show at the ’Fr.Mullers’ campus and they seemed happy about this city. Hopefully they will come again.
The Stop-Gaps is an organisation with a heart, having organized and performed, free of charge, concerts to support several charities such as Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, (they presented a special concert in Mumbai on St.Teresa’s canonization day). The Army Central Welfare Fund for victims of the Kargil Conflict, the St Vincent de Paul’s AIDS Hospice, Mobile Creches and Senior Citizens Homes. The Stop-Gaps Choral Ensemble endeavour to live up to their motto of ’BRIDGING THE WORLD WITH SONG’ with true commitment.
What is a ’Redemptorists’ : Since 1732 the Redemptorists, who use the letters ’CssR’ behind their names, have followed Christ, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned. The ’Redemptorists’, a congregation of missionary priests and brothers founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori, who was renowned for his devotion to Mary. Our mission—and our joy—is bringing the message of salvation to all people. Our spirituality is based on the incarnation, the cross, the Blessed Mother, and the Eucharist. These Redemptorists mainly go about from parish to parish and preach ’Missions’ (now called ’retreats’. They specialize in ’redemptive’ service and their oratory and preaching skills are highly trained and capture the attention of the audience whenever they the speak. In Mangalore they can be found at ’Nityadar Nivas’, Alangar, Moodbidri.P.O Mangaluru Tk, DK.
The Icon : In April 26th, 1866, the re-discovered and restored Icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help (‘Mater de Perpetuo Succursu’) was hung over the high altar at San Alfonso Redemptorist Church on Via Merulana, in Rome. Beginning this year, in 2015, the Year of Jubilee continues. Pope Pius IX, when giving the picture into the care of the Redemptorists, said to us ‘Make her known to the World’,- and Redemptorists all over the world have been doing this ever since. Since 1866, the Redemptorists have spread devotion to Mary under the icon and title of Mother of Perpetual Help. According to tradition, the ancient Byzantine icon of Our Mother (or Our Lady) of Perpetual Help was stolen from a church in Crete where many miracles had occurred. The image remained in the private possession of a Roman merchant and his family until 1499 when it was publicly displayed in the Church of St. Matthew in Rome
The Stop-Gaps Cultural Academy : The Stop-Gaps Cultural Academy, formed in 1984, under the direction of its conductor, Alfred J. D’Souza. In a short while, it expand to a fully registered cultural academy, which encompasses the promotion of music, dance and drama, and has left an indelible mark on the Mumbai music scene. The performances of The Stop-Gaps and its effort at fostering and promoting international music have been lauded by both, press and public. Its repertoire ranges from serious classical to effervescent jazz and pop. Not only has the generation gap been bridged, but religious, economic and social barriers have also been broken down through song.
The group consists of highly placed professionals such as, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, school and college students, as well as people in service and retired persons, with an age span of 16 to 70 years and over, belonging to different faiths and communities – Hindus, Muslims, Parsees and Christians, from various regions in India.
It was the first-ever Indian choral group to be invited and selected to participate in the Festival International de Chant Choral de Nancy, France, a singular honour further compounded by several encores, standing ovations, critical acclaim and rave reviews, that did India proud. It was also invited to perform in Israel in December, 1998 at the closing celebrations of Israel’s 50th anniversary of Independence, proving again to be a hot favourite in concerts at Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. The Stop-Gaps Choral Ensemble was again invited to perform at the Festival International de Chant Choral de Nancy, France from in May, 2002. The highlight, of this trip abroad, however, was singing at the special Papal Audience on 15th May, 2002 at the Vatican, at which the Ensemble was specially requested to sing the world’s most popular song ’Happy Birthday’ for the Pontiff, who closed 82 years three days later. It was joined by a record 25,000 audience in St. Peter’s Square, the event being televised and broadcasted to the whole world. In July 2004, the Ensemble toured Germany singing in Stuttgart at the invitation of the Mayor of Stuttgart, and winning two Silver Medals in the Popular Music and Scenic Folklore categories at the 3rd Choir Olympics 2004 held in Bremen.
As it enters its 25th year, The Stop-Gaps has just had the privilege to be one of only six choirs from across the globe to be selected after stringent review to participate in the prestigious 7th Choir Competition at Elsenfeld, Miltenberg Germany – an immensely edifying way to usher in its Silver Jubilee!
Thanks to the initiative of the Stop-Gaps, many Indian choirs have been exposed to discerning and appreciative Mumbai audiences, through the ever popular Festival of Festive Music held every December in association with the National Centre for the Performing Arts at the prestigious Tata Theatre. Through this the choirs have found themselves listed with the International Federation of Choirs, which enables them to receive information about invitations to choir festivals and competitions abroad.