The Foundation appointed Dr Rohan D'souza as the conductor of the newly revived Newman Choir in 2002. Rohan, a practicing Obstetrician and Gynecologist brought with him a profound knowledge of music and versatility in the interpretation and execution of Western classical, modern and Indian music, which made him immensely popular as a conductor. He has conducted many choral groups at prestigious theatres, auditoria and churches in and around the city. In 2006, Rohan passed on the baton to Mrs. Celeste Cordo.
Celeste Cordo is an extremely versatile musician - composer, arranger, producer, conductor, accompanist and violinist but most importantly has a contagious passion for God. She studied piano under her mother Ivy Fernandes and the late Joseph D'lima and violin under the late Josic Menzie performing in his Symphony Orchestra. She has also been a member of the BCO playing the violin for several years.
Celeste has been arranging and composing music for instrumental and vocal ensembles from the age of 16. She has also been a piano and violin teacher, and conducted several choirs (adults and children); taught music in several schools and has been a music director for several popular musicals performed in the city.
Celeste has been associated with sacred music from a young age. She has directed and trained youth and adult choirs for church services and special ecclesiastic occasions such as the inauguration of Mount Carmel Church, Bandra, the Youth Rally with a 100 strong choir for the visit of His Holiness John Paul II to Mumbai in 1986, and not to forget the immensely popular musical 'The Witness'.
Her experience in composing, arranging, producing and conducting extends to a wide range of musical genres including a synthesis of Indian Hindustani with Western harmonies. One of the choirs recently founded by her the 'Cadenza Kantori' (comprising young men and women) were well appreciated for their choral performances of such music at Chorfestival 2004, the international festival of sacred music in Cologne, Germany.
Despite her busy schedule, Celeste has taken charge of the Newman Choir at the behest of the Fr.J.B. Fernandes Sacred Music Foundation committee and on the recommendation of Dr. Rohan D'souza.
The Newman Choir has also had the privilege to have been directed by Mr. David Bray, a noted visiting conductor from London. David studied composition, piano, organ and conducting at the Royal College of Music, London. He specializes in vocal coaching and musicianship skills, has a considerable reputation for choral training, and works regularly with choirs and vocal soloists. A handful of his achievements include a spell as composer-in-residence at St Edmund’s School, Canterbury, editing and transcribing music into Braille for the Royal National Institute for the Blind, and a stint as Managing Director at the international music examinations board, Trinity College, London to name a few. David conducted the Newman Choir in 2006 for “Mozart 250”, which comprised the Requiem Mass in D Minor.
The Newman Orchestra
With the successful experience of orchestral accompaniment for Bach's Magnificat in 2004, an orchestra of some of the finest musicians in the city was formed as the Newman Orchestra, to accompany the choir for the Mozart anniversary concert. According to the needs of the scoring of this programme, musicians were invited from the Bombay Chamber Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra of India, the B.P. Chamber Orchestra and the Indian Navy Band.
Current Managing Committee (Managing Committees)
President Edward Mendes
Vice-President Edwin Mathias
Honorary Secretary Anne Pereira
Joint Secretary Zelia Monsorate
Treasurer Michael Fernandes
Joint Treasurer Grisilda Tavares
Committee Member Oscar Leo D'souza
Committee Member Celeste Cordo
Committee Member Linda Rodrigues
Committee Member Norma Carneiro Alphonso
Thanks to Celeste, I have learnt a lot and grown in my spirituality. Bless our Newman Choir.
Singing with the Newman Choir for the past eight years has been a very fruitful musical experience for me. I have learnt so much about the technicalities associated with choir singing and stage performance and it has immensely helped me in my own experience of choir conducting. Sacred and Religious Music – the uniqueness quotient of the choir – has made me realize the importance of singing not just with your voice but more importantly with your soul.
“The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Truly, singing with the Newman Choir has been a very unique and uplifting experience. I’m no great singer, but I love music and being able to learn and train under Celeste is an opportunity and privilege! I thoroughly enjoy my rehearsal on Sunday evening because it energizes my soul and I look forward to meeting all the beautiful friends I’ve made in the Choir!
- Coral D’Souza