Sagrado Coração de Jesus Marching Band
Founded in 1974 at Sta. Cruz Church in Toronto
St. Helen’s Catholic Church Parish Hall, 1680 Dundas St West, Toronto
Over the years, in our integration in Canada, we have shown that we are a hard working people, but also… a people with culture and artistry. A man does not live of bread alone. The Portuguese community has shown over the years that it is rich in many things – Miguel Domingos.
Philharmonic bands have been a feature of Portuguese communities in Canada, especially during Azorean religious festivals. Founded in 1974 by about 30 immigrants, the Sagrado Coração de Jesus band is today one of the oldest Portuguese organizations in Canada. Today, the band has about 50 members of different ages, coming from different parts of Portugal, and a large number of women and immigrant descendants.
Arguably the most popular form of musical expression in the Azores is the philharmonic (or marching) bands. Usually born into band families going back to the nineteenth century, the hundreds of amateur musicians in the islands were taught to read and play music – mostly brass and percussion instruments – in one of the Azores’ many ensembles. Outside of music festivals where rival bands compete, their main stage has been the various outdoors religious celebrations, with which Azorean marching bands became associated. Azorean immigrants, many of them trained musicians, brought the islands’ love of philharmonics to Canada.
The earliest Azorean marching band in Toronto was the Banda do Senhor Santo Cristo, founded in 1966 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church to accompany the Holy Christ of Miracles (Senhor Santo Cristo) procession that started that year. Oakville’s Lira Bom Jesus Philharmonic Band was the second, founded that same year. Sixteen other bands sprouted throughout Canada and the United States in the 1970s, each starting with about 20-30 members. The high costs of starting a marching band, with its many expensive instruments and outfits, led these bands to become formally associated with local churches, which hosted band practices and music schools in their parish halls. In return, those churches have their own marching bands to enliven their religious celebrations and attract more parishioners. Today, these bands integrate Portuguese immigrants and descendants from all regions of Portugal, and a growing number of women.
In September 1974, a group of Portuguese immigrants living near the Santa Cruz Catholic parish, on Argyle and Dovercourt streets in Toronto, formed the first organizing committee of what became the Sagrado Coração de Jesus (Holy Heart of Jesus) Philharmonic Band. Originally composed of 30 musicians, the band’s first performance was the procession of the Feast of the Holy Spirit (Festa do Divino Espirito Santo) at Santa Cruz church in the spring of 1975. Three years later, the band left Santa Cruz to make room for a school and moved to St. Helen’s Catholic Church on Dundas Street West and Lansdowne Avenue, where it became the Music Society of St. Helen’s.
Besides playing at Portuguese community events the band has also performed in various events in the Italian, Spanish, and larger Canadian communities in the Greater Toronto Area. One of their milestone performances was the Canada Day festivities at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on July 1, 1983, upon invitation from the Member of Parliament Aideen Nicholson. The band has also performed in Montreal and Kingston, and in cities in Massachusetts with large Portuguese-American populations, including Fall River. In 1988, the band performed in São Miguel for the first time,.
The Music Society includes a tuition-free music school and, until 2010, a choir. Its philharmonic band has recorded three albums since 1997. They donated $1,000 from their Christmas Concert album sales, recorded on November 17, 2002, to the Children’s Aid Organization of the Azores.
Hora dos Portugueses
Short description: Maroon banner
Place of origin: Toronto, Ontario
Description: Marching band parade banner with a metal rod; maroon fabric with floral pattern; silver and red tassels; the band’s ensign consisting of a lyre, an image of Jesus Christ with a glowing heart; and the stitched words in silver “Banda do Sagrado Coração de Jesus. Fundada em 1974 Toronto.”
Short description: Blue banner
Place of origin: Toronto, Ontario
Description: Marching band parade banner with a metal rod; light blue fabric; golden tassels; the band’s ensign consisting of laurels, lyre, a red heart, and a Christian cross; and the stitched words in gold “Banda do Sagrado Coração de Jesus. Toronto – 1974.”
See 3D version here.
Short description: Heavy Bass Drum (Bombo)
Place of Origin:
Monroe, North Carolina & Valencia, California, United States
Creators: Ludwig Drums & Remo
Description: Marching band’s drum (bombo), consisting of a worn dark wood box with metal rings on which to attach the straps; a worn mallet; and two heavy bass skins, a Ludwig WeatherMaster db-1000 and a Remo Weather King. Stamped on one of the skins are the words “Banda do Sagrado Coração de Jesus. Fundada em 1974 Toronto” in red and black, and a yellow lyre .
Short description: Tuba
Origin: Scarborough, Ontario
Creator: Gold Star Shirts & Apparel Inc.; uniform maker, unknown
Materials: Fabric (Polyester & Cotton) and plastic
Dimension: XL (shirt), 7 1/8 (hat)
Description: Uniform consisting of light blue military-style jacket, pants, and hat with golden buttons, stitched ribbons, and decorative rope; white short-sleeve shirt; black tie; pin and patches showing the band’s logo – a heart-shaped lyre framed by two strands of maple leaves. Inside the hat is a card with the band’s name and address (St. Helen’s Parish Band, 1680 Dundas St. West, Toronto, On, M6K 1V3), phone number, and the owner’s name, José de Sousa.