The Portuguese Band of San José was founded in 1971 by Mr. Eleutério Borba. The band’s nickname is Banda Velha, which means “Old Band”. The Portuguese Band of San José is the oldest current Portuguese marching band in all of California, but not the first to be founded by Eleutério Borba.
There were several Portuguese marching bands founded in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, but they faded away over the years. In fact, some were founded by the famous Portuguese composer John Philip Sousa, who composed most of our familiar American military marches.
In June of 1971 during the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Spirit sponsored by the Irmandade do Espírito Santo (I.E.S.),
Rev. Carlos Macedo, then pastor of Five Wounds Portuguese National Church, was in procession with the congregation in devotion to the Holy Spirit. With Fr. Macedo were co-celebrant priests and the crown of the Holy Spirit, as well as an older gentleman playing the hymn of the Holy Spirit on an accordion. This was the scene that inspired Eleutério Borba with the idea that a marching band was a necessity.
He spoke to Fr. Macedo about his idea and wanted the pastor’s support and guidance in founding the first Portuguese marching band in California in many years. The two risk takers set out to find musicians to start a band.Rev. Carlos Macedo.
Just a few weeks later, they held the first meeting of many whose result would be the founding of the Portuguese Band of San José. The meeting minutes of the first and subsequent meetings leading up the the band’s inauguration can be accessed below.
The Portuguese Band of San José was inaugurated on February 13, 1972. The special guest in attendance was Dr. José Moreira de Campos Alves, Consul General of Portugal in San Francisco. The master of ceremonies was Mr. Joaquim Esteves, and the inaugural program was:
9:30 a.m. Ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the I.E.S. Hall
performed by the band’s godmother–Barbara Silva.
9:45 a.m. Anthems performed in front of Five Wounds
Portuguese National Church.
10:00 a.m. Mass celebrating the inauguration of the
Portuguese Band of San José.
11:00 a.m. Lunch at the I.E.S. Hall.
2:00 p.m. Card Party
5:30 p.m. The Portuguese Band of San José performs
their first concert.
Amparito Roca (P.D.)
Flor do Topo (P.D.)
União e Lealdade
Um Ano Depois (Overture)
Ferreira do Santos (P.D.)
The founding musicians of the
Portuguese Band of San José:
Eleutério José de Borba (Conductor)
João de Castro (Assistant Conductor)
António Alvernaz • Gene Arruda
José Domingos Arruda • Agostinho Bettencourt
José António O. Borba • João G. Dutra
Tony Dutra • Silvino Espinola
Joe A. Fagundes • Manuel A. Furtado
Vital A. Garcia • José Maciel Gois
Manuel Goulart • José Manuel Medeiros
Manuel Medeiros • Norberto Medeiros
Tom Medeiros • José João Melo
Artur F. Moniz • Gilberto Nunes Sr.
José Rodrigues • Florindo Santos
João A. Santos • Jorge Manuel Sequeira
José R. Serpa • Frank Silva
Manuel A. Sousa • Manuel Bettencourt Sousa
Luis Toste • Amaranto Vitorino • Leonel Vitorino
Since its founding, the Portuguese Band of San José has flourished while proudly representing the Portuguese culture throughout California and beyond.