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60ís trio get set to croon again Print E-mail
MALACCA: The name Trez Amigos (Three Friends in Spanish) will not raise excitement or warrant recognition among present-day music lovers.  

But many of those who are pre-Merdeka born will readily recall and testify that the singing trio was once a household name and as good as any of the musicians on today’s local entertainment scene.

Since disbanding in the late 1960s, when the Sta Maria brothers – all former teachers of Malacca’s St Francis Institution with some 50 original compositions in Bahasa Malaysia, English and Portuguese under their belts – started migrating to Australia, the group has yet to be reunited. 

Come Oct 26, the one-time ever popular singing threesome of Horace, now 80, and younger brothers Kenneth, 76, and Arthur, 70, together with some pioneer members of the group will get together and harmonise once again.
They are set to bring nostalgia and many down-memory-lane moments to those atttending St Francis Institution’s l22nd anniversary dinner celebration at the school’s premises on Jalan Banda Hilir.
Though it’s the Sta Maria brothers that popularly represents Trez Amigos among its many diehard fans of yesteryears, the group’s progress and success from its infancy is made all the more resounding by several of its pioneer crooners, all Eurasians from Malacca.
Formed in l949, the group’s original lineup comprised leader and tenor Horace, bass singer Ernest Rodrigues and lead vocalist Andrew Carvalho. The group, which was formed to compete at the Malacca City Park entertainment centre talentime, won top honours and was invited to record at Singapore’s Radio Malaya.

Their popularity grew as soon as their recordings of six country-and-western songs hit the airwaves. Shortly after, Carvalho moved to Singapore to work and Camilo Gomez replaced him. The group continued their performances on radio shows in Malacca, Penang and Kuala Lumpur, with Horace in particular gaining a large following as his reputation as the “best yodeller in the country” grew. There was a break in l95l when Gomez headed for England on a teaching scholarship. Upon his return in l953, the group resumed their partnership with much renewed enthusiasm. They made their first commercial recording in Singapore under the His Master’s Voice label with the songs O Bulan Cemerlang Di Malaya and O Maria on 78rpm records. O Bulan Cemerlang Di Malaya was also featured by the BBC in its Overseas Coronation radio programme, which was broadcast to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Indonesia and Por-tugal. In l954, the Malayan Film Unit produced a documentary entitled Malayan Variety featuring the group. 
In l960, Gomez was transferred to a teaching post in Terengganu and Arthur took his place. Ernest also left, moving to Johor Baru, and was replaced by Honorius Sta Maria. Two others, Roland Rodrigues and Emile Moissinac, also joined the group for short stints. When Kenneth finally joined up with his brothers, Trez Amigos moved into another fine era on the local music scene. Recordings in Singapore were regular, and performances at functions and gatherings all over the country during weekends seemed the norm. 
However, the migration of Arthur to Perth in the late l960s saw the group disbanding. The migration bug also caught up with Kenneth and Horace in the early l970s. Though they continue to sing individually at family social functions in Western Australia, there was no reunion as a group. Their coming together at their alma mater’s upcoming anniversary celebration dinner is just a one-off stint for the ever-loyal Franciscans.  

The trio has also recorded their popular songs and compositions on CDs, which will be sold at the function with all proceeds going to the St Francis Institution Chapel Fund.  

By PERCY D’CRUZ

Star: Friday, October 18, 2002

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