9th April 2000
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Kala korner by Dee Cee
Is this music?
Our illustrious musician, Pundit Amaradeva is appalled at the type of junk that is dished out through our electronic media in the name of music. "It is disgusting," he says. "The meaningless words we hear in what most of them call 'songs' is a degradation of a fine art."

Why is it happening? "Most of the present day lyric writers don't make any attempt to study our rich classical literature which can provide ample material to compose beautiful songs," Amaradeva explains. What do we do about it? "Get inspiration from the classics and use meaningful words in the compositions."

Amaradeva is ready to do exactly that. He is planning what he calls "a recital of neo-classical music" with the objective of clarifying what music is. Through illustrations in both vocal and instrumental music, he hopes to draw the attention of both the music lover and the critic to the need for a greater understanding of this fascinating subject that we all enjoy. 

The Indian Cultural Centre is giving all the support for Amaradeva's new experiment. The inaugural show will be held at the Centre on April 25. Thereafter, Amaradeva hopes to perform throughout the country.

At a media gathering at the Centre, Amaradeva gave a glimpse of what he proposes to do. He presented a few verses from the Guttila Kavya, the immortal classic, illustrating how they can be treated as gems of music. 'The flight of the Selalihini' is another of his new compositions where he uses two verses from the Selalihini Sandesa. In between the two verses he would have a violin solo.

"Today listeners derive some sort of vinodaya but what we should acquire is rasa through a song," insists Amaradeva. "That's my mission." He admits that there is great interest in music among the public of all ages but in the absence of a clear definition of music, the correct appreciation is severely constrained. "The majority of music lovers tends to be superficial in their appreciation and is unable to penetrate the aesthetic beauty which music emanates," he says. 

Amaradeva has been in the music scene for over five decades and his contribution to the development of Sinhala music is enormous. His latest effort will be eagerly awaited by all his fans.

Biggest ever
The Exhibition of International Photography held recently at the Art Gallery has been described as "the biggest photographic exhibition under one roof ever conducted in Sri Lanka", by the President of the National Photographic Art Society, Mervyn de S. Jayasinghe. The exhibition was organised to mark the golden jubilee of the Society. 

Explaining the role the Society has played over the past 50 years, he says that as a national institution it has extended the knowledge of photography freely. This medium has been able to produce thousands of artistes to whom it's a lucrative source of self-employment.

Meanwhile, the Society has built up strong and permanent links with over a hundred countries. "Ours is the only representative of Sri Lanka of the International Federation of Photographic Art. 

We are proud that during the past 50 years we have been able to bring honour to our motherland by uplifting the image of Sri Lankan artistes in the international arena," says the President.

As to the exhibition itself, the panel of judges would have had a tough time selecting the photographs. Three hundred and ninety two photographers from Argentina to Vietnam had sent in 1,879 entries. To select 322 could not have been that easy judging from the quality of the pictures exhibited. From over a thousand pictures (1,111) in colour 187 and from 768 black and whites, 135 had been selected. Among them were 27 from 22 Sri Lankan photographers.

On the panel were Mervyn de S. Jayasinghe, H. M. R. Perera and G. Hettiarachchi.

Self-taught artist
Energetic Lalith Kalubowila recently displayed his talents in turning out murals with 'Our Heritage' as the theme.

A self-taught artist, Lalith's murals with cement and sand, depicted well known personalities and historical episodes - Vihara Maha Devi, King Parakramabahu, Unmada Chitra, Sigirya frescoes, Isurumuniya lovers, Sandakada Pahana, the Man and Horse and the arrival of Vijaya. 

In some, Lalith tries to tell a story like that of King Buddhadasa, the famed physician treating a cobra. 

His interpretation of our traditional communication methods was quite interesting.

Lester's films
Lined up for screening at the Lester James Peries Felicitation Festival on Rupavahini in the coming weeks are Nidhanaya, selected as the best production of the first 50 years of the Sinhala cinema, Ran Salu and Ahasin Polovata.

Remember - it's on Saturdays at 10 p.m.

Film of the month
The Hindi film, Ankur (The Seedling) directed by Shyam Benegal will be screened at the Indian Cultural Centre tomorrow evening in its programme of featuring selected films.

Taste of Sinhala -14

Mangoes in Colombo!

By Prof. J. B. Disanayaka
A foreigner who visits Colombo, will be fascinated by the fruit stalls that dot the pavements. Consumers are attracted by the way the fruit vendors exhibit some of the colourful fruits of this tropical island.

One of the most colourful fruits on sale is the mango, known in Sinhala as amba. The foreigner who tries to get a taste of the mango will also have a taste of Sinhala, for to say the Sinhala word amba he has to learn to say a sound that he has never said before.

This sound, usually written in English with two letters, [m] followed by [b], is a sound that is almost unique to Sinhala. 

It is pronounced as if both sounds [m] and [b] are pronounced at the same time, not one after the other, as in English 'number' or 'humble'.

This sound, written in English with [mb], occurs in many words in Sinhala. 

It also occurs in the name of another fruit that appears seasonally on the side-walks of Colombo: rambutan, a red fruit, full of hair, and originally brought to this island from Malaysia.

Even though Sri Lankans say 'Colombo' when they talk in English to refer to their old capital and its famous harbour, they use the name kolamba when they speak in Sinhala.

If you find it difficult to pronounce the two sounds [m] and [b] together, you may try pronouncing the sound [b] through the nose as well. Good luck!

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