The Sinhala touch at Sydney Opera House
To perform at the Sydney Opera House is indeed
a prestigious for any artiste. For renowned musician Rohana Weerasinghe
September 3 will be a night to remember when he leads an orchestra
of 25 to provide music for some of the finest artistes from Sri
Lanka in a performance.
Sri Lankans are bound to fill the Opera House to
hear and enjoy the voices of their favourite singers who will sing
Rohana’s compositions just as they did four years ago at the
BMICH when they rallied to pay tribute to his musical career spanning
three decades. The show was fittingly titled 'Beloved Rohana'.
At least 15 members of the Opera House youth orchestra
will join Rohana's troupe from Sri Lanka to provide the music. They
will form the string family of the orchestra. Notations have been
sent to them and they have already started rehearsing. Ten big names
among the local instrumentalists will accompany Rohana.
The singers include Nanda Malini, Victor Ratnayake,
Sunil Edirisinghe, Edward Jayakody, Deepika Priyadarshani and several
others. They have been with Rohana for many years helping him in
his endeavours to improve the quality of Sinhala music. A special
attraction will be the child singer Harshana whose award winning
song in 'Sooriya Arana' is still being talked about.
After the show in Sydney, they will move on to
Melbourne to perform there before returning to Sri Lanka.
Tony in the sixties
As I was reflecting on Tony Ranasinghe's career
spanning over 50 years when he was being felicitated in style, I
remembered an incident dating back to the mid 1960s when he had
taken the stage by storm as a member of Sugathapala de Silva's 'Ape
|Tony at the felicitation ceremony
It was an evening at Lumbini - the Mecca of Sinhala
Theatre in the sixties. The show was due to begin at 7. At 6.50
Tony, the key man was missing. A packed hall was waiting impatiently
for the curtains to go up. They had heard so much about the play.
The other players were getting uneasy. Everyone wondered whether
he would not turn up. But Sugath was cool. He was confident Tony
would turn up. At 6.55 the man arrived. Everyone breathed a sigh
of relief. He had rushed from Kandy where he was on location that
afternoon shooting a film. With a bottle of orange barley in one
hand and the script in the other, he retired to a corner to brush
up his lines.
Within a few minutes he was walking through the
audience to reach the stage with five other players - the opening
sequence of the much-talked about 'Harima Badu Hayak', a thematic
adaptation of Pirandello's 'Six Characters in Search of an Author'.
(Walking behind Tony were Prema Ganegoda, Malini Weeramuni, Wickrema
Bogoda, Anura and Kamani Ganegoda). Clad in a white bush shirt,
a dark pair of trousers and wearing a pair of sandals, I vividly
remember Tony looking much older than he really was. He was playing
the role of a father with grown up children.
Tony was a regular in Ape Kattiya. He had made
his mark as a happy-go lucky type on 'Boardingkaarayo' (1962) followed
by the highly controversial Dharmasiri Wickremaratne's production
'Ran Thodu' (1963) and was adjudged Best Actor, 'Tattu Geval' (1964)
and 'Harima Badu Hayak' (1965).
Tony played a key role in bringing back the audiences
to dialogue drama at a time when stylised drama was the order of
the day following 'Maname' (1956).
Just as much as Tony was in demand for stage dramas, he was also
sought after for films. Lester James cast him as the happy-go-lucky
village lad Baladasa in Gamperaliya and also in the lead role of
'Delovak Atara' as a dashing youngster in a rich family.
He also played the role of a carefree youth in
'Ran Salu' and by the time he played the estate supervisor in Gamini
Fonseka's 'Parasathu Mal', he had proved his screen talents.
Tony has had an illustrious career and is still
in demand. Now he prefers to concentrate on writing - both books
and screenplays. Fifty years is a long stint for any actor. Continue
the good work, Tony. Chirang Jayatu!
Eshantha back with his creations
More readily recognized on the local music scene
for his appearances as a classical pianist and rock keyboardist,
Eshantha Peiris will return to the stage to present a recital of
his original musical compositions at the Russian Cultural Centre
Hall on August 18 and 19 at 7.15p.m.
Eshantha, who is currently pursuing a Master of
Arts degree in Music Composition at New York University (where he
also teaches in the piano department), began his training in piano
and music theory with Ramya Perera, and later furthered his passion
for the creative side of music under the guidance of composers Marc-Antonio
Consoli (Classical), Ira Newborn (film) and Jim McNeely (jazz),
while picking up a Diploma and of Bachelor's degree (sponsored by
Prima Ceylon Ltd.) in piano performance along the way.
The recital programme consists mainly of chamber-sized
classical and jazz compositions written by Eshantha within the last
four years, with some of the works having been composed/arranged
especially for the weekend’s performers. The talented performer
line-up comprises several of Sri Lanka’s emerging generation
of musicians, including vocalists Anjuli Gunaratne and Eranga Goonetilleke,
string instrumentalists Namali Fernando (cello), Amal Abeysekera
(viola) and Satish Casie Chetty (violin) flautists Sureka Amerasinghe,
Tilanka Jayamanne, Ruvindra Angunawela, Natasha Senanayake, and
Johann Peiris (alto flute), drummer Sumudi Suraweera, bass guitarist
Alston Joachim, and the composer himself at the piano. Also featured
will be a composition each from Sri Lankan composer Natasha Senanayake
and Brazilian composer Edmundo Villani-Cortes.
Entrance is by programmes available at the Russian
Cultural Centre (open 9 a.m.-7p.m. daily). The main sponsor of the
event is F & G Property Developers (Pvt.) Ltd.
It’s buzzing time again
The Book Buzz series is back in action, this time
round giving the audience an opportunity to appreciate the work
of two Gratiaen Award-winning writers, Jagath Kumarasinghe and Neil
Fernandopulle on Thursday, August 17 at 6 p.m. at the British Council,
Colombo. The event is open to all on a first-come first-served basis.
Jagath is a product of Uva College Badulla. He
has worked as a Sinhala feature writer and later as a Sinhala copywriter.
His book Kider Chetty Street won the Gratiaen Prize in 2004.
Neil is a stark contrast to Jagath, in that, he
calls himself a “molecular biologist by trade and a writer
by habit”. When he is not engaged in performing DNA analysis
in forensic investigations, he writes, mostly short fiction.
He was jointly awarded the Gratiaen prize for 1999
for his collection of short stories, titled Shrapnel. He was again
shortlisted for the same award in 2004 for his first novel, This
Side of Serendipity, which he still considers to be a work-in-progress.