Bringing Music To One And All
The first letters that Mosess Fernandez fell in love with were Sa Ri Ga Ma. But he was not in a position to afford an affair with music. Instead he joined the church choir and gave vent to his dreams. Mosess never gave up hope. Once he started earning, he saved a part of his income to learn the first notes of classical music. From the LMS School of Music, Trivandrum.
That was a long time ago. Today he runs a music and arts school at four centres in the city. Wren School of Music and Fine Arts is not another training centre. When Mosess decided to set up the school eleven years ago, he had a purpose. Children should not be denied music lessons because they could not afford it. Wren took students at nominal rates of Rs.30-50 so poor children who are inclined towards music can realise their dreams.
Mosess also had other plans for Wren. The school conducts free classes at orphanages, old age homes, juvenile homes and mental health care centres.
Mosess is no rich man. All he has is a service centre for vehicles, and an undying passion for music. Teachers from the LMS School agreed to take classes at Wren. The school has everything - music and dance classes, teaching of instruments like violin, guitar, organ etc., and painting classes. “We would also teach students for youth festivals and other competitions - mono-act, mimicry and other items,” says Mosess.
Mosess struggled to make ends meet with the kind of fees he charged. He picked up all kinds of odd jobs to pay the salaries of the teachers at his school, and look after his family. Everyone appreciated Mosess for his noble deed but no helping hands reached him. As time passed, his school earned a reputation of one for poor students. “This stopped well-off students from coming. They thought it was only meant for poor students.”
Six years after the school was set up, a team of young people who used to attend Wren, took up a music programme. “They performed right here (near the school), and did not even let me know. Everyone told me that it was no use in taking so much pain, offering classes at such a small rate.” He had plans to get the students who studied at the school to take classes at charitable centres.
The hurt that Mosess felt at the incident prompted him to scale up his fees to Rs.150-200 per month. He would still take in poor students, who paid little or no fees. Nevertheless, the improved rates attracted more students, removing the impression that Wren was a school for the poor.
It was on Nov.14, 1999 that Wren School of Music was launched, with veteran actor Aaranmula Ponnamma inaugurating it. Every year, for the anniversary Mosess would make sure an event was conducted to honour musicians and singers. Last year, for the tenth anniversary, Mosess has again surprised all with yet another noble initiative. A Sangeetha Ashram for the old and unwell artists, who need support. Believed to be the first in the world, Mosess’ idea is to let the old patrons of music and art spend the last days of their life in a world of art, doing what they have always loved doing. “It is like an old age home. But you don’t get to sing a song or play an instrument as and when you feel like in an old age home. There will be a number of restrictions. Here, they can enjoy music, take part in the classes and be happy.”
It was seeing a man who played the harmonica for 45 years beg in front of a temple every Friday, that made Mosess want to do something for the helpless old artists, who once entertained everyone but now forgotten by all.
The first, and presently the only inmate of the Sangeetha Ashram is Thunderbirds Babu. “‘Thunder-Birds’ is an old music club from which music veterans like Raveendran came,” says Babu. “I was a member of the club and sing songs of Mohammed Rafi. When Rafi passed away, I stopped singing for 23 years. After that, MS Naseem and Yesudas made me sing again. I have seen many-a-singer grow to great heights. I am also the only one who does slapstick comedy in Kerala.” At Wren, he would teach painting and listen to the music classes. “Everyone needs some kind of a support to grow. I hope Mosess will receive the support to achieve his dreams of helping others.”
And that is exactly what Mosess needs now. Support. He is chasing a big dream, and a noble cause. He dreams to build an Ashram with all facilities. “Right now all I have for an Ashram is a small house next to the school. I wish to build small cottages with an ambience of music and art. I hope someone would agree to buy land for us. If we have the land, then people like Soorya Krishnamoorthy could get us builders,” says Mosess.
Kollam Mohan, playback singer, has been teaching at Wren for eight years. “I am interested to do something for these students, many of whom are from a financially poor background,” he says.
Amritha, who completed her B.Tech course, has been learning classical music for three months at Wren. “I live in the neighbourhood. It is great to be here.”
Mosess is not dispirited despite the hurdles he goes through. He is committed to the cause he worked his whole life for. His love for music charges him in his moments of despair. In this season of peace and warmth, as Christmas knocks on your door, it is the likes of Mosess who keep alive the spirit of giving, of brotherhood and love. Like the little Wren bird that bursts into a loud and complex song, Mosess moves on, charged with the power of his passion for music.
For contact details of Mosess, click here.
- Cris Seetha