‘We sing for our audience’
Whoever said never work with your sibling can eat their words, because this March Rohan and Ishan De Lanerolle will celebrate six years of their double act, and they’ve only got a few debates to show for it- and a whole arsenal of sold out, star-studded performances. On March 3, their fans will take the well-worn path back to the Grand Ballroom of the Waters Edge as the brothers celebrate their anniversary in style with dinner and a concert, just like they always have.
It’s a partnership that, against the sizeable odds of sibling dynamics, has worked like a charm for the duo. Rohan is the consummate performer, the more public face of the two. Ishan, his parallel vocally and musically, is the quieter one on stage, and the one who runs everything like clockwork offstage. Ishan gives interviews, coordinates logistics for their shows and ensures that they keep their audiences happy. “It’s been eventful,” he reminisces. “But everything has happened so fast that it seems only yesterday we got on stage for the first time as the De Lanerolle Brothers.”
Theirs is a story that has been told many times over; the De Lanerolles schooled at S. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia and now run their family tea business. Singing is “a hobby turned profession,” which has assumed a life of its own, says Ishan. Today the brothers are renowned and not just locally, having become a favourite with audiences abroad- particularly in countries with a strong Lankan diaspora presence. In December 2014 they performed to their biggest audience ever as part of a four-act concert at Orchard Street in Singapore, drawing in a crowd of 50,000.
“Our audiences have always been good to us,” says Ishan and this is true. Every year tickets for their concerts fly off the counters, and the anniversary shows in particular draw in the crowd who have, in all likelihood, attended every De Lanerolle concert since inception. This is why the brothers stick to a well-tested formula at their anniversary shows; they play old favourites interspersed with the classic, with a smattering of the more modern hits. They’ve been occasionally accused of playing to their audience but Ishan knows that anniversary concerts are about giving the audience what they want, and almost never about what the critics want.
“It’s a very democratic process in our heads, you see,” he shares. “Our audience members pay good money to come and see us perform, and they like hearing familiar music. That’s not to say we won’t change things up but we try to go with the majority. It’s an anniversary show after all!” This time, the floor is open to the dancers among you during the last segment-another nod on the brothers’ end to audience requests.
One request you probably won’t see them entertain however is for baila music to be performed. “Now Rohan and I love dancing to baila but that doesn’t mean we can sing it!” Ishan laughs. “We have to know our capabilities and do what we do best. We try and get better and better,” says Ishan. “Sometimes-and our audiences don’t always realize this-we’re trying to outdo each other during shows, trying to see who can hold a note longest. It’s fun-and always a good laugh.”
Catch the De Lanerolle Brothers’ sixth anniversary show on March 3 from 7.30 p.m. at the Waters Edge Grand Ballroom. Tickets for the dinner concert priced at Rs. 10,000 are available at the Park Street Mews and Waters Edge.