Bridgetines bring magic to the stage
t was Shakespeare who said "If music be the food of love, play on". Had he heard the Bridgetine choir in action at the above show, he would have added "sing on, dance on" as well.

Song as a means of communication is among the most effective, as it has the potential to take even the most ordinary of thoughts, ideas and expressions, and convert them into a transmission almost sublime in its effect. It moves the emotions more powerfully than a speech or a recital. This is the magic of song, and it was this magic that was evidenced in the performance of this young choir.

Beginning with a true convent atmosphere, with songs from the "Sound of Music" the choir went on to display a diversity of talent that was thrilling to watch, as they went from being nuns to disco dancers to Indians and many more, all in the space of one and a half hours. It is to their credit that they were in perfect character and brought out the appropriate mood in each scene that they portrayed. This reviewer was especially impressed by the yodelling song from Sound of Music, which is almost always left out of concerts, perhaps due to the level of difficulty it presents. It was not only sung well, but also choreographed artistically.

When listening to the choir in action, whether in the group singing, or in the solos, there was never a feeling that something was missing, which is what usually happens when an all-female choir takes to the stage. This choir handled four-part harmonies with the zest and confidence as if it was the easiest of undertakings, and in doing so, kept the audience spellbound from beginning to end. The concert programme was also designed in such a way as to allow the choir time to take their costume changes, as the soloists performed at those times. Hence, there was no break, either in continuity or momentum.

The soloists were all convincing as they had taken time to understand the context of the words they were singing, and were able to bring out the sub textual meanings of the words as well. Special mention must be made of the soloists who performed "Memory", "Cabaret", and "Can't Help Lovin' dat Man". They displayed a maturity and sensitivity far above anything one would expect from a schoolgirl. It was apparent that the director had extracted the very best and something more, from these young performers.

With regard to external effects, this reviewer was particularly impressed by the costumes, considering the tight costume budget that had to be worked with. The costumes in "ABBA" deserve special comment, as they were reminiscent of the seventies, and really helped to set the mood for the lively singing and energetic dancing that followed.

The lighting, - enhanced the performance by providing a realistic atmosphere for each scene - from the soft lighting in the convent scene, to the flashy disco lights in ABBA. The musical accompaniment was spot on.

Bouquets also to the entire production team including the backstage crew, for a disciplined and professional job behind the scenes.

In conclusion, it was a truly uplifting experience, and all those who left the performance would have taken a little bit of the magic of the Bridgetines away with them.
- Cassandra

Movie favourites to the sound of organs
By Marisa de Silva
"From the Movies" an evening of song and dance will go on the boards at the Bishop’s College auditorium on July 5 and 6. Shyama Perera, Director of the Academy of Organ Music, after her recent success of performing at the Victoria Theatre, Singapore earlier this year is hard at work with her 160 students ranging from 6-18, who will play songs from around 40 popular musicals.

Some timeless classics from movies like the 'Sound of Music', 'Grease', 'Fiddler on the Roof' and 'Summer Place' are just a snippet of what's in store for audiences of all ages next weekend.

"The main feature of this concert is that each and every one of my students is getting an opportunity to show off their talents," says Shyama.

Many other talented dancers and singers, not directly attached to the Academy will also perform at this concert, backed by Shyama's students.

There will be at least 10 organs on the stage at any given time and each item will smoothly flow from one to another, she explains.

A full orchestral effect can be simulated on the organ so, it would seem like there are many instruments backing the performing artistes, when in fact there would only be the organs, she adds.

Her daughter Swasha who is helping her with the choreography will be seen in a dance act on her own from one of the hit movies of the 80s, 'Flash Dance'.

'From the Movies' should prove to be an enjoyable evening for the whole family.

An old man in search of reality beyond himself
"Strange Old Man" - a musical-dramatic sketch with Mark Amerasinghe as narrator and Valentine Basnayake at the piano at the Alliance Francaise on June 12.

When I entered the auditorium a few minutes late it did not look promising. The narrator was seated and reading sedately from a script. The pianist slouched before the keyboard seemed half asleep. To make matters worse, the narrator was in the process of ridiculing the old man's efforts at composition as formless and graceless.

When the old man began to play excerpts from his compositions you could understand the reason for his neighbour's objections. For the music was unlike anything you might have expected at the end of the penultimate decade of the 19th century, at which the narrative had been set. It was at once amorphous, unmelodious and deeply chromatic almost to the point of dissonance.

But it was strangely compelling. And long before the narrator was forced to admit that there might be a method to the old man's madness, we had come to realise that his music had a beauty and power of its own in spite of its fragmentariness and its rejection of the conventional harmonic and melodic resolutions. It was the music of an old man who had seen the dreams and illusions of youth and the prime of life shattered and was searching, through composition, to express love and to preserve a meaning to life. "These fragments," he seemed to be saying in his music as Eliot did in poetry, "I have shored against my ruins."

We were astounded to learn at the end of the narrative that the old man was Franz Liszt. This was a side of Liszt we had not dreamt of, the music of his last few years when he had retired from public life and was no longer the romantic exhibitionist but one in search of a reality beyond himself. The result was a modernity well ahead of its time, the effects both impressionistic and expressionistic, the seeming abandonment of tonality, the flashes of the whole tone scale etc., all anticipating the revolution that Debussy, Schoenberg and others were to bring about in the next century. They must surely have been influenced by this last phase of Liszt, and here was yet another link in the great chain of the musical tradition.

Mark Amerasinghe's narration was polished and sensitive. His singing of the poem, "Be Still", did exquisite justice to the poignantly sparse beauty of the song with accompaniment that Liszt had made of it. Valentine Basnayake's rendition of the music of these last years was truly striking. He maintained throughout the illusion of the old man lost in his music, hardly changing his posture or glancing at the score. In so doing he achieved an expressiveness that was startling for its technical virtuosity as much as for its interpretative insight. There was no doubt that he identified closely with this final phase of Liszt's creativity, and we are grateful for the revelation that his enthusiasm afforded us.
- Priya David

Indian art with tribal touch
An exhibition of visual art, organized by Gangcey will be held at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery, Colombo from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. from July 5-7.

Eighteen young artists from India will participate and some of them will be in Sri Lanka during the time of the exhibition. These young artists who hail from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, have been mainly inspired by the influences of tribal art.

Gangcey's intention is to make this activity a meaningful experience within Sri Lankan art, say Manoranjana Herath and Sanjeewa Liyanage, both talented artists who have organised this project.

Kala Korner by Dee Cee
He had a warm heart
Listening to Sam Wijesinha, former Secretary-General of Parliament is always a treat. He is knowledgeable, informative, thorough and interesting. The D. R. Wijewardene Memorial Award evening was no different.

He had a lot to say about the greatest newspaperman in Sri Lanka's history of journalism. He talked about his personal life, working life and the tempo of the country in the Wijewardene era.

"A man with a warm heart and a cold exterior" was how he introduced the founder of Lake House. Describing him as "a hard task master", Sam Wijesinha pinpointed three qualities he looked for in his employees - opportunity, capacity and loyalty. "He spoke very little. Even at a party, he kept silent. It was a treat to draw out DR to speak," he said.

Talking about the journalists who worked for Wijewardene in the early days, he mentioned Manikkam Saravanamuttu who joined the 'Sunday Observer' as Sports Editor, who had returned from Oxford where he had played cricket there. Sam Wijesinha had an interesting story to relate of how sharp Wijewardene was. Once he questioned Manikkam about a fast century his brother Sara had scored in a school match - S. Thomas' vs St Anthony's. "In how many balls did he score the 121 runs", he asked Manikkam who replied he did it in 35 balls and went on to give the details - 11 sixers, 10 fours, 1 two and 13 singles. Wijewardene did a quick calculation and asked how he could get the 13 singles one after the other when he had to get to the other side after hitting the ball!

Then there was A. V. Kulasingham who came to Colombo from Jaffna to read law and become an Advocate and eked out a living by writing editorials of the 'Daily News'. Recalling that Wijewardene liked Martin Wickramasinghe a lot, Sam Wijesinha related how he promoted the young Wickramasinghe to rent out a house in Mount Lavinia after he got married so that he wouldn't go home to Koggala for the week-ends.

Eminent journalist Tarzie Vittachi had started work in the 'Daily News' in January 1948. When J. R. Jayewardene presented his first budget, Wijewardene wanted him to write a funny piece about it. Vittachi knew it was a tough assignment and being a witty columnist, he was sure whatever he wrote, he would be in trouble. He did write and waited at home the next morning without coming to office not knowing what the reaction of the chief would be.

It was only after the editor, H. A. J. Hulugalle called him and assured him that the chief was pleased about what he had written, that Vittachi came to office. Mr. Wijewardene called Tarzie and said he was raising his salary by 50 rupees!

Tracing the days from when Mr. Wijewardene was a member of the National Liberal Club during his student days in England, Sam Wijesinha spoke of how he was influenced by Indian national leaders like Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Sundernath Bannerji, his contemporaries in London. Back in Ceylon, Mr. Wijewardene was the secretary of the Liberal League and the Ceylon Association.

Mr. Wijewardene was aware of the need to educate the masses and he did it through his newspapers.

At a time when the English papers ('Ceylonese', 'Morning Leader' and 'Observer') were backing politicians and British interests, he bought up the 'Dinamina' with brother D.C. The paper was being printed in Maradana while the offices of the English papers were in Fort. In Maradana, the surroundings were awful and Wijewardene decided to move to Fort. When the 'Ceylonese' found it difficult to pay 21,000 rupees they owed F. R. Senanayake, Mr. Wijewardene wanted to pay and buy it. Mr. Senanayake asked him to bid at the auction and he got it for 16,000 rupees. He paid the balance to Mr. Senanayake.

In journalism he looked for lucidity, precision, order and method. He was also a pioneer of welfare schemes for workers.

"Wijewardene led a serene home life," Sam Wijesinha concluded.

Wijewardene award
Bandula Abeysekera, a young man from Matale employed at the Bank of Ceylon won the D. R. Wijewardene Award 2002 for the best manuscript in Sinhala fiction.

‘Maddahana' is the title of his novel which brought him the coveted Wijewardene trophy and a cash award of 50,000 rupees which he collected from the chief guest, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Bandula was the 18th recipient of the Wijewardene Award, which has continuously been given from 1984.

Though this was the 19th awards presentation, no one was awarded the prize in 1995 since there was no manuscript worthy of the award.

The first runner-up for 2002 was W. B. D. Ranaweera who received a certificate and a 25,000 rupee cash award for his effort 'Senehasa Soya'. Tekla Pathmini Kariyawasam was the recipient of a certificate and 10,000 rupees for being second runner-up. Her novel was titled 'Sanda Hiru Nethi Lova'.

Three of the award-winning novels have been made into teledramas. It's rather interesting that all three had won the award in three consecutive years. Swarnalatha Kiriwaththuduwa's 'Isuru Soya' (1986 winner), Jayatilleka Kammalaweera's 'Ata Avurudda' (1987) and Sarath Wijesuriya's 'Avidu Anduru (1988) are the three. While two bore the same titles in the teledramas, 'Ata Avurudda' was presented as 'Prabhathaya'.

Anushka on bestseller list
Anushka Wirasingha's books 'Visually Learn PC' and 'On Your Marks... Net...... Set........ Go! Surviving in an e-world' have been rated bestsellers in the prestigious India Times bestseller list (

The two books, 'Visually Learn PC' (a fast selling favourite with a prestigious Times ranking and one of only 20 books in the 'Computer Basics' category to be classed bestseller) and 'On your marks ....... Net ....... Set...... Go! Surviving in an e-world' (the only bestseller in the 'Internet' category) both published by Prentice Hall, have gained popularity within a relatively short period of time.

To gain a bestseller ranking is no easy task, often requiring sales of over 20,000 within a week, a spokesman for Prentice Hall said.

This is the first time a Sri Lankan has made it to the India Times bestseller list and been ranked as a best-selling author at such an early stage in his or her career.

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