Whoever doesn't come out with his fingers clicking and flipping, his hands clapping, humming the just-heard songs, or screaming out loud in an over-excited Aretha Franklin-like voice after this concert, without doubt has no perception of music or the emotion it carries, connecting people.
I'm talking about the Bishops College Choirs' show In The Spotlight, which will be held on September 14, 15 and 16, directed by the famous MacMaster University alumni Ruwani Seimon. Children from all grades have joined the choir and ungrudgingly spent their precious holidays practising for the definitely electrifying, upcoming event. Seventy girls from the upper school and thirty five from the 4th and 5th grades will be performing on the three nights, on the stage of the Bishop’s College auditorium.
When other children went on holiday or were playing in the streets in August, these 100 children went to school every day and practiced hard and attentively from eleven o'clock in the morning till six in the evening. And still, they went home with a smile on their faces. Their parents must have been wondering what makes them agitatedly and excitedly run to school early morning, trying to be as punctual as possible and still not want to leave after more than seven hours.
The dedication they have shown this project is truly amazing and brings every music-sourpuss to their senses. "We love being to together with Ruwani, in fact we feel like coming home when we arrive at the rehearsals in the mornings, and in the evening we don't even want to go home," Dimitri, who is the choir leader, tells me, before immediately dashing back to the rehearsals.
The two-hour long fundraising show will start off with an overwhelmingly powerful "Les Miserables" medley, where the children are dressed in spectacular 19th century costumes and are given special group-items to accentuate the already gripping music show, and make it a feast for the eyes as well.
The whole concert contains all three major languages of Sri Lanka and unquestionably this is a multicultural peace-statement in itself. The 9th grade will be stunning the audience with a harmonic Tamil song, while a medley of all-time-favourite love-songs will be performed by all the singers. Afterwards the bodacious and astonishing rock‘n’roll part, which was chosen as a genre by the students themselves, will end the first part of the show.
"Ruwani wants us to get involved as much as possible in the whole procedure, and she told us to collect some ideas of what we want to sing, so we came up with the idea of modern rock'n'roll. And she never says no, you know?" says Dimitri. They have not only chosen what to perform, but have also been given the freedom and the considerably difficult task to create the choreography for the performance. But of course Ruwani is directing it with her sheltering experience and lines out the boundaries for their never-ending creativity. "We are trying to take a little bit of the weight off her shoulders lately and it also leaves us with a lot of creative freedom," says Inakshi happily.
Numerous forms of dancing make the show a stupendous and highly enjoyable eye-opener which should not be missed, and through that a blending of cultural influences can be seen and not only heard during the show. The Sinhala medley will be shown with Kandyan dance interludes that reflect the meaning of the sung words. During the rock'n'roll part they come as far as Jive in the choreographies, and similarly diverse but consciously graceful ballet dance-movements will also be included in the show at the early start during the "Les Miserables" performance.
"Ruwani is giving us an introduction into the field of singing and performing on stage as well, which is a great chance for us and we are doing our best to please her," says Inakshi who is the choir assistant and is also like many of the kids thinking of a future as professional singer and performer.
Special eye-marks or better to say ear-marks should also be paid to the five miscellaneous solos that are spread within the complete entertainment, as well as the "Killer Queen" song performed by an assorted group of 12 senior students.
But this is not where the show ends. In the second half the main focus will be on the two uplifting and gripping sections that together with the "Les Miserables" medley, aim to be the most important, stunning and mind-blowing parts – the Walt Disney show that will be sung by the 3rd and 4th grades and the Sinhala medley that will triumphantly finish the show.
All kinds of genres will be present in the long rehearsed and expected-to-be-sold-out show. Due to the fact that the last show Stay Tuned two years ago, which was only held for two days was completely sold out, this year's event will be three days long, but it is just as likely that tickets for all three days will go as fast. So better get your tickets as soon as possible – available at the auditorium of the school, ranging from the prices of Rs.250 to Rs.1000!
Who will not be deeply moved and gripped by the story of the dedicated children, will definitely be gripped by the story of Ruwani Seimon who is momentarily struggling with the third stages of cancer. "This not only is what keeps me going but I am also only keeping my strength and am able to cope with my illness because I am surrounding myself with children and music – the two things I love, all the time."
This symbiosis between the children and her, is what makes the whole project so special and gives it all the astounding energy. Ruwani is loved by all her students and they try to push away the day when she has to leave, which she is planning to do after the concert, as far away as they can. "We love her and she has been like a mother to us, and we just can't bear to see her leaving," says Inakshi, the choir assistant who has been taken out by Ruwani for dinner after their hour-long rehearsals, like some of the other kids as well.
Await a truly spellbinding event, which is as professional as it is mesmerizing, absorbing and moving.