For Patrick Alexander Rosario, an accordion artiste with more than a 1,000 stage shows, four films to his credit as a music composer and a long association with the world of music for the last 35 years, visual impairment is no bar.
He plays the keyboard, harmonica, pianica and the melodic (percussion instrument), apart from being an accomplished accordion player. Though he initially aspired to be an advocate, Patrick Alexander Rosario, popularly known as Patrick in music circles, began his music career in 1978.
Apart from being a regular at various stage shows across the country, the musician has 3,000 albums to his credit! Patrick has played for top Telugu composers like T Chalapathi Rao and Anil, Malayalam composers Jerry Amaldev, Arjun Master, Kannur Rajan, Devarajan, Johnson, Babu Raj and Shyam, and Kannada music directors including Vijayabhaskar, G K Venkatesh, Ranga Rao, Harikrishna and Manu Murthy.
Having worked with Hindi music directors Ravindra Jain and Raj Kamal, he has been part of projects with A R Rahman and Harris Jeyaraj. “However, my all-time favourite is the maestro Illaiyaraja,” he says, adding that he also adores the work of yesteryear Bollywood music composers like S D Burman, Madan Mohan, Shankar- Jaikishen and Kalyanji-Anandji.
He has played for most of the top singers — T M Soundarrajan, P Susheela, P B Srinivas, L R Easwari, S P Balasubramaniyam, S Janaki, Malaysia Vasudevan, Jeyachandran, Chithra, Mano, Dr Rajkumar and Udit Narayanan.
If you are already in awe with the expansive repertoire of the musician, wait till you trace the long journey he has made to reach this point.
It could be called serendipity; Patrick discovered his interest in music, when he listened to his maternal uncle playing the mouth organ. He was barely a teenager then, in the 60s, when the casual interest made a quick transition to a deep desire to learn music.
But it was at a church wedding that he developed an affinity for the accordion, that he went on to master. A chance meeting with a musician who taught him the basics of the instrument, and Patrick had already taken to the instrument with ease. However, it was piano legend Sunny Castelino who taught him the theory of Western music. “But, after the initial theory lessons, I developed on my own as a musician,”
In 1972, at the age of 19 when he lost his vision due to cataract, Patrick decided to pursue his love for music as a vocation. “I wanted to be an advocate, but then I couldn’t because of vision loss.I didn’t want to be a burden to my family and decided to do something of my own,” he says.
Patrick arrived in Chennai in 1973, and joined a group that produced devotional songs. “I came to Chennai with an uncle, following my mother’s advice to stick to devotional music and not to enter into films,” he adds.
However, it was destiny that brought him to films. He had met music arranger Joseph Krishna who was then working with Adinarayana Rao for a Telugu film. The meeting resulted in his first break in films. The opportunity was provided by none other than the legendary composer M S Viswanathan for his project titled Agni Pravesam. “He asked me to play a Shankar-Jaikishen composition and was moved to tears by my rendition of the duo’s Jeena Yahaan Marna Yahaan from Mera Naam Joker,” he smiles.
After that, there was no looking back.
Today, Patrick is selective with his work and has stopped working with a few composers for a reason. “Many don’t know what an accordion is,” he says with a tinge of disappointment in his voice. But, having treaded the path to fame, he is willing to help and encourage newcomers, especially singers.
“I love music more than anything else in this world. I have realised that most often, you will encounter people who will try and discourage you. But, I believe that a few people must come forward to boost their morale,” he says, adding that he is putting together a stage show to showcase fresh talent.