Naya Zamana

Naya Zamana Orchestra
Country Trinidad & Tobago

The Naya Zamana Orchestra1 (Bissessar Persad's Naya Zamana Orchestra) has played a pioneering role in the field of Indian music and culture in Trinidad and Tobago. Formed in 1944, the orchestra has provided entertainment for hundreds of thousands of people across the Caribbean and North America and has assisted many charitable organizations and events. The Naya Zamana Orchestra is Trinidad & Tobago’s oldest surviving musical orchestra.

The Naya Zamana Orchestra, is owned, led and managed by Mr. Bissessar Persad. Through his musical expertise and teaching background, The Naya Zamana Orchestra has produced and facilitated the careers of leading artists in the field of Indian classical song, music and dance as well as other genres of music, dance and artistry in Trinidad and Tobago.

The orchestra is dedicated to promoting and maintaining the image of Trinidad and Tobago as a hotpot of culture on the international scene. Discipline, loyalty, professionalism and creativity has been the keynote to the success and longevity sustained by the orchestra.

The story of The Naya Zamana embodies a greater part of the historical progress of Indian music and culture in Trinidad & Tobago. The band has molded the lives and made famous innumerable celebrated singers, musicians and dancers since its inception. It has touched the lives of all cultural artists throughout the length and breadth of our twin islands of Trinidad & Tobago.

In 1994 the Government of Trinidad and Tobago awarded the Naya Zamana Orchestra The Hummingbird Gold Medal for long and meritorious service in the field of music and culture.

The Orchestra was founded by Ustad Nazeer Mohammmed in the heart of Port of Spain in the early 1940s. It became instantly famous for its renditions of Indian film music and local classical compositions. Maestro Narsaloo Ramaya took over leadership of the Orchestra in 1967 and carried this helm until 1976 in the localities of Curepe and San Juan. In 1976 leadership was passed on to musical stalwart Bissessar Persad who still leads and manages the Band in Sangre Grande.

The Naya Zamana Orchestra is noted for its strict ethical code of delivering live music from its member instrumentalists who play their instruments rather than sequence recordings during live performances. The Orchestra remains committed and faithful to its motto for preserving Indian culture and music in its traditional and authentic musical art form and thus utilizes most of the conservative and original instruments used in Indian music, albeit percussion, wind or strings.

The history and depth of this Orchestra remains unparalleled. All who have risen to any degree of professionalism in Indian music in Trinidad and Tobago have at some stage of their career passed through as a member of the Naya Zamana Orchestra.

Contents

History of Naya Zamana Orchestra

The Naya Zamana Orchestra, a name that epitomizes and is synonymous with Indian Orchestral music, song and dance in Trinidad & Tobago.

Few words can truly describe the Naya Zamana Orchestra and its contribution towards the formation, growth and sustenance of Indian Culture in Trinidad and Tobago. The story of The Naya Zamana embodies a greater part of the historical progress of Indian culture in Trinidad and Tobago. The band has molded the lives of numerous and celebrated singers, musicians and dancers. It has been the forerunner and front most Indian Orchestra that is truly representative of the traditional and authentic musical art form available in the Western hemisphere.

Indeed all past and current members of the Naya Zamana form a distinguished and elite group of musicians, singers and dancers committed to the continued growth and progress of Indian music and culture in T&T.

Origins of the Naya Zamana

In 1943 a feeling of compassion and sympathy, quite naturally, was felt by the people of T&T at the calamity that befell the people of India. A famine relief fund committee, headed by Messrs Murli and Metha Kirpalani, N M Ghany, and Budbhir Singh was accordingly set up to collect funds to aid the hunger-stricken in India. Among the several means employed to raise monies for the fund, a stage show was organized. The cream of Trinidad's talent was recruited for this show called the Gulshan Bahar Show. This short-lived but magnificent show was the fist modern stage drama in T&T and led to a resurgence of Indian musical development across the length and breadth of T&T. The important and urgent cause for which this show was organized appealed to the sentiment and humanity as well as evoked a sense of feeling among the population. Both rich and poor flocked to the theaters of the island to witness for the first time a stage production of such high standard. The show was an instantaneous success and resulted in the accumulation of $41000.00TT a huge sum for that time.

The Naya Zamana Cultural Show

Inspired by this success the same musicians and artistes formulated and presented a sequel stage production titled The Naya Zamana Cultural Show. The tremendous response to this show was not unexpected for never before in the history of the East Indians in Trinidad was a cultural show of such caliber and magnitude presented to the public. These were performances with a modern setting and background, entirely new with contemporary music that caught the imagination of the public.

Formation of the Orchestra

In this blaze of glory these musicians regrouped into an Orchestra and called themselves the Naya Zamana Orchestra in 1944, led by Ustad Nazeer Mohammed. Among its founding members is Mr. Narsaloo Ramaya. Mr. Narsaloo Ramaya not only was a founding member of the Naya Zamana but also held the helm of leadership from 1967 to 1976, a position he succeeded from Ustad Nazeer Mohammed. His efforts and contributions made with the Naya Zamana has not gone unnoticed and most recently he has been honored with the Aagaman award. He has also been the recipient of the National Hummingbird Medal in 1970.

Today the Naya Zamana continues to fulfill its traditional role as the leader and pace-setter in the field of Indian music, under the existing leadership of Bissessar Persad whose dynamism and dedication to music is matched only by his intense and fanatical devotion to the Naya Zamana. The reigns of leadership was handed over to Mr. Bissessar Persad by no other than Mr. Narsaloo Ramaya in 1976.

Past Distinguished Members

Certain names must be mentioned who have been Naya Zamana Orchestra Members: -Hamid Ali, co-founder of the Naya Zamana and manager until his death in 1967. -Ahmed Khan, Jit Seesahai, S M Aziz, Salimullah, original members in first line-up. -Taran Persad, Jagroo Qawal, Jang Bahadoor, Sayeed Mohammed, original singers in first line-up. -John Mohan, the man who gave the Naya Zamana its name and who was involved in the first stage production. -Isaac Yankeran, Bhola Persad, Jagganath Singh, King Ratiram, Zora Seesahai, Rhoda Asgarali, Jameer Hosein, Myodeen Ackbarali, Myroon Mohammed, all singers during the early years. -Harry Mahabir, Earl Heywood (who introduced the electric guitar into Indian Orchestral music), Seetal Persad, Amar Singh, Mahendra Anand, Chandradath Singh, Harry Badal, Baldeo Singh, Rampersad all early musicians with the Naya Zamana. -Isaac Mahaboob, James Ramsewak, Henry 'Tooloom' Dindial, Sonny Chandi,Randhani Sharma, Ramcharitar, Lal Bharat, Lalchand Rafi Singh , later singers with the band. -Champa Devi, Owen Ali, Rajkumar Krishna Persad, all early dancers with Naya Zamana. -The Naya Zamana has credited singers such as Polly Sookraj, Esther John, Khamrune Ali-Hosein, Ken Ali, Reynold Dial, Primatee Bhim, Sarojini Sagram, Ann Marie Chadee, the Bisoon brothers, the Jagdeo brothers. -And not forgetting the Mohammed brothers, Kamalludin, Moean and the late Sham who promoted, supported and sustained the band for almost three decades.

Historical Credits and Achievements

-The Naya Zamana highlighted their performance with the famous dancer Champa Devi at the 100th Anniversary Indian Centenary celebrations at Skinner Park in 1945, commemorating the 100 years of Arrival of Indians in Trinidad and Tobago. This event attracted over 20000 patrons from all over Trinidad.

-The Naya Zamana was first Indian orchestra to achieve the following in Trinidad & Tobago:

  -first to be broadcasted 'live' on air on Radio Trinidad, courtesy Mr Kamalludin Mohammed on his radio show 'Indian Talent on Parade'.
  -first band to introduce the guitar in its musical repertoire
  -first band to feature the new trend of playing interludes in the music.
  -first to feature on a locally produced LP, featuring the songs of Trinidad's greatest singer, Taran Persad.
  -first to tour overseas
  -first and only band to be selected by the Government to represent T&T at Cultural festivals abroad, Commonwealth Arts Festival in Great Britain in 1965 and the Canadian Expo 67 Festival.
  -first band to be featured on local television, courtesy TTT.
  -first band to perform for Indian Arrival Day celebrations at Manzanilla Beach.
  -first band to be official guest to His Excellency, The President of T&T on occasion of the band's 50th Anniversary.
  -first band to receive a National Award, 1994 Hummingbird Gold Medal.
 

World Dignitaries

-The Naya Zamana had the privilege of performing before royalties and world dignitaries such as:

  -Dr Eric Williams, Prime Minister of T&T
  -Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of Great Britain
  -Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia
  -President Léopold Senghor of Senegal
  -Shrimatee Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India
  -Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, President of India

-In 1962, on occasion of T&T's Independence the Naya Zamana was selected to perform music for the Indian segment of Errol Hill's Gala Performance at Queen's Hall, under patronage of the Governor-General.

-The Naya Zamana was the standing Indian Orchestra for all Government State ceremonies and functions during 1962-1972.

-The Naya Zamana has performed at London's Royal Albert Hall.

-The Naya Zamana performed for the joint T&T and India Independence celebrations at West India Club in the years 1969-1972.

-The Naya Zamana has provided musical accompaniment for India's top classical singer, Manna Dey, and India's top shennai player, Bismillah Khan.

-During the years 1983-1991 under the sponsorship of Pan American World Airways, The Naya Zamana performed at venues in New York and Miami (USA), Toronto (Canada), US Virgin Islands, Guyana, Suriname, and the Caribbean.

-The Naya Zamana performed at T&T's Exposition-94 at the National Stadium for the High Commission of India's sponsored Indian Cultural Show.

Golden 50th Anniversary

1994 marked the band's 50th Anniversary, a great milestone for any musical band. Our association notes the great strides made by The Naya Zamana over the years culminating in the celebration of band's Golden Anniversary with the endowment of a National Award, The Hummingbird Gold Medal, in recognition of its long, dedicated and meritorious services to nation and community.

And the list goes on and on.....

The Naya Zamana has stood out pre-eminently among other orchestras ever since its inception. It has gained recognition for its outstanding performances all over the Western World. It was honored to have entertained royalties and dignitaries. It was honored to have been recognized by our Government.

The Naya Zamana has played a pioneering role in the field of Indian music, dance and culture. It has produced champions in the field of song, music and dance. It is of interest to note that the Naya Zamana has always displayed a great interest towards Charitable and Religious organizations for which they have never hesitated to play music free of charge when called upon too do so.

And last but not least, the Naya Zamana has promoted and maintained the image of Trinidad and Tobago as a superlative nation on the international scene.

[1]

Naya Zamana Orchestra (Indian Film Music Orchestra: is a Trinidad & Tobago based Indian Orchestra owned, managed and directed by Bissessar Persad. The Orchestra members are Bissessar Persad, Satnarine Bissookram, Lindsay Espinoza, Brahma Neil Gyan, Jerry Lackhan, Kishore Maharaj, Ryan Ramkissoon and Devanand. The music is arranged and directed by Bissessar Persad. Original compositions written by Bissessar Persad, Satnarine Bissookram and Neil Brahma Gyan.

Contact Address: LP 59, Alfonzo St., Sangre Grande, Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies

• 868 668 3110 • 868 767 0679 • 868 333 9505 • 868 341 1648• 868 668 4956•

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