Future Programmes
Executive Commitee
About MMA and Its History

The Madras Musical Association for the first time is getting into cyberspace and it makes me all excited. This is something the founders would never have imagined. Nor would they have imagined that the singing body they found would stand the test of time.

The MMA was founded in St Andrews church (the Kirk) in 1893 by a group of European expatriates who loved to sing together. The first patron and president of the association was the Governor of madras and signor Aloysio an Italian who was the choir director of the Kirk was their first choral conductor. It was later registered with the societies act and a committee was formed with office bearers’ life members and a full fledged constitution. The governor continues to be the patron.

The primary goal of the Madras Musical Association is to project perform And propagate western music. So even though the choir was the main Arm of the association, it also indulged in presenting instrumental music, comic operas and musicals besides co- sponsoring various musical presentations with the consulates and embassies.

The MMA was very active and there were a minimum of four presentations every year.

Mr Justice Coutts trotter, Miss Isles, Mr. R.J.C. Bristow, Mr. Martin, and Sir Murray Coutts-trotter where the prominent conductors.

Mrs Higginbotham played a very important role in the administration and in music.

Somewhere in the early fifties, Mr Handel Manuel took charge of the directorship of the choir.

It slowly transformed from being an all European organization to an organization where Indians played the major role. This was also true because after independence many of the Europeans either left our shores or went into hill stations to lead retired lives. The choir and the association were progressing greatly.

In a nutshell the MMA was flying high. During this period I cannot forget the contributions by Musical giants like Victor Paranjothy, Robin Benjamin, Rita Saldana, Richard and Prabhu Singh, John and Leslie Vigor. Lionel Vedamanickam, John Rajanayagam, Joseph Baynes, George Subramanyam, Alice Manuel and Sharadha Shcaffter. (A few who come to mind). Mr Handel manual was the be all and end all of the Madras Musical Association.

One of the last highlights of this era and a smash hit was “Fiddler on the roof” with Joseph Baynes as a show stopper. In 1982 after a general body meeting when the top Leadership of the committee of the MMA changed hands Mr Handel Manuel in spite of many pleas from the office bearers and choristers resigned from the MMA and formed the madras Philharmonic choral society.

The association was splintered Suddenly the Kirk which had been our home for almost 90 years asked us to leave the premises. The MMA was left without a home, and some of its musical instruments.

Finally the Emmanuel Methodist church and the home of Solomon and Martha Howie became the venues for rehearsal. Kalyan Subramanyam and Jabez Janagaraj were the conductors. This was when the musical “South Pacific’ was preformed with full orchestra and the then governor Khurana in attendance.

The late Dr.Mathuram Santosham was the president then. Dr Chandran Devenesan the vice president and Mr. Frederick Ebenezer the SecretaryDue to ill health in 1986 Dr Santosham Senior had to resign from the committee and Mr Clement Felix took over as president, with George Subramanyam as vice president and Solomon Howie as secretary. Mr Haricharan Das who had done yeoman work for the association continued as treasurer.

In 1990 Mr Clement Felix stepped down from from the presidentship and the mantle fell on yours truly. Keith Gammon was the Vice president Solomon Howie the secretary, Haricharan Das the treasurer and Samuel Grubb the music director.

It would not be an understatement to say that he MMA was in the lowest of dregs. Christobel Howie was crowned miss India in 1991. The MMA presented “Over the rainbow” a musical with excerpts from various Broadway and west-end musicals featuring Christobel. The show was directed by Mithran devanesan with Rajeevan David in charge of music and Samuel Grubb conducting. It was a runaway success packing 3 full shows at the music academy with the governor in attendance for one of them.

I will always be thankful to my good friend Vinoo Mammen for sponsoring it. Thus started the rebuilding if the Madras Musical Association. From an organization which was a castaway then, with a struggling choir of 6 voices initially, we have now, a centrally located office and library, a dedicated committee and a 100 strong choir which has won the praises of choral directors like sir David Wilcox, Ron smart and Paul Leddington Wright. The choir has made 5 overseas tours and I am proud to state that the choir has been invited for the pre event cultural festivities of the 2012 Olympics in London England. The choir is blessed with excellent leadership like Augustine Paul as music director, Edwin Royas Accompanist and Ebenezer Arunkumar as assistant music director.

With great humility I must thank the almighty for His guidance and an excellent array of personnel who helped in the process of rebuilding. Ravi.T.Santosham President


  © 2009 Madras Musical Associations. Designed & developed by dotCue Technologies.