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Surendra taking his music higher

SEETA PERSAD Sunday, March 16 2003

He quit his job one year ago as a music teacher at the Princes Town Junior Secondary School to pursue a bachelor degree in music, in pursuit of his dream to become a qualified musician and vocalist.

Having mastered instruments like the steelpan, piano, keyboard, and saxophone, Surendra Ramoutar, 27, now manages the Melody Stars orchestra. In the band, family members including his father — Joseph Ramoutar, two sisters — Vijayanti and Puja, and brother — Shammi Ramoutar all play various instruments. As well as doing weekly live shows in South and Central Trinidad, the talented family also provided music for Mastana Bahar’s 2002 season. From his teenage years Surendra began experimenting with the various sounds. He began playing the keyboards when he was only seven years old.

“I was always fascinated by the various sounds coming out of the high-tech instruments. The strings of the guitar, the beat of the drums, the melody that comes from the basurie (East Indian flute) — I find myself looking for something infinite. The sound that is created so magically. I knew I had to study music because there is a quest inside me to study the art and be able to master it,” the shy but brilliant musician said. At the Orange Field Hindu School which he attended, he was selected to play at many of the school’s functions. He later went to Carapichaima Junior and Senior Secondary School and was often called upon to perform at their functions as well. He won the “Best Vocalist” prize two consecutive years while in Form Five. He also took the prize for the Best Keyboardist at the Anchorage Pop Rock show back then. From those days Surendra started piling up his trophies at home and has over 60 awards collected through the years for his music.

As a teenager he mastered the piano at all levels from grade one to eight, theory and practical, under the tutorship of a renowned pianist, Gloria Barry at a British-based school in Couva. Barry admitted he was one of the brightest youngsters ever to pass through her school. Surendra gained national attention in 1994 when he won the Mastana Bahar finals for his rendition of “Dill SE Tujhko” on the saxophone and two synthesizers. He played all three instruments by himself much to the amazement of the packed audience at Gulf City Auditorium. “It’s a chain of thoughts in music. You have to get to one stage before you can get to the other. One cannot reach any great heights without studying the levels of music,” he said. “One starts thinking about that and the body and soul get deeply involved.” Surendra’s desire is to create and write music for local and international audiences hence his mission to be so qualified.

“I guess when you are a qualified musician only then you can take the music on the international stage. At least you can get the respect of producers and promoters from any country in the world,” he said. Surendra thanked his mother Seelochanie Ramoutar for her dedication to himself and his brothers and sisters. “My mother has always been there for us. Each day we can look forward to seeing her home. Cleaning and preparing for us. I guess this helped us to focus better. I am a success because of my mother’s encouragement,” he said. His father, who is a retired school teacher, also stood by them through the years, he said.

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