Thank you for the music

It is said that 'words are the pen of the heart but music is the pen of the soul'. The excellent selection of songs and music performed by the senior students of the Elizabeth Moir School was truly inspirational and an evening to remember. 'Rise' was a fitting title for this unusual stage production which was performed recently to a packed audience at the Russian Centre.

The show started with an audio-visual presentation of scenes which set the mood of the show. This was followed by a romantic melody played on the classical guitar by Dooray Paik. The trio comprising Tasha Hettiarachchi on cello, Neluka Seneviratne on violin and Kanniya Pieris on piano also played a lovely and moving rendition of Salut d'amour. Infact I would have preferred more instrumental works in the programme .

This was followed by some excellent solo performances of popular songs like John Lennon's 'Imagine', 'Impossible dream' and 'Someday' sung by Shaun Perera, Shehan Ranatunge and Tasha Hettiarachchi respectively. At times one forgot that it was a performance staged by young people.

However, Nishali Perera who sang 'I hope you dance' should have paid more attention to articulation, although she has a very good contralto voice. The two main items sung by the choir were commendable and displayed a wide range of dynamics and tone quality.

The soloists as well as the choir which performed for the first half of the show were accompained by the music director Neluka Seneviratne who showed her prowess at the keyboard.

The second half of the concert had a complete change of mood. 'Lean on me' sung as an acapella quartet by Kent Tilekeratne, Shehan Ranatunge, Shaun Perera and Marsh Dodanwella was highly commendable. The rest of the programme was backed by tracks. Anushka Manamperi captivated the audience by singing Whitney Houston's one time No 1 hit song 'Greatest Love of all'. 'I will survive' sung by Nadishka Weerasuriya and 'What a feeling' sung by Tasha Hettiarachchi was excellently choreographed and kept the audience’s toes tapping. 'Thank you' for the music was well performed by Nathan Kerner and the choir.

It was a grand finale to a memorable musical evening.

Much of the success of this show was due to the untiring efforts of the artistic director Aida Mansoor and Marsh Dodanwella, the producer whose experience made the show highly professional.

Rich chorus of traditional Gregorian Chant

Choro Benedicte's opening concert for 2003 "Memories", will come as good news to those who long for Latin Church music.

Gregorian Chants and polyphonic choral compositions were once routinely sung in our churches and by choirs such as the Catholic Choral Society conducted by Rev. Fr.Ignatius Perera and St.Mary's Choral Group directed by Rev. Fr. Claver Perera. Now they have become relics of the past. Thankfully, the Old Benedictine choral ensemble, Choro Benedicte now in its thirteenth year, has kept alive the choral traditions of the Catholic Church and done so with admirable finesse.

Thus when Choro Benedicte mounts the stage of the fully refurbished concert hall of St. Benedict's College at 6.30 p.m. on Saturday, March 29 they are sure to quench the thirst for traditional church music spanning a period of over 500 years, to some degree. The 19 member, male voice choir will also present famous choruses from operas, folk songs, popular rock and contemporary compositions ideally suited for such rich voices.

Apart from these Western musical gems in Italian, Spanish and English, the choir will also offer Sunil Santha's and Ben Fonseka's (both old Benedictines) compositions.

Adding diversity would be solo recitals by Gladwin Ramanathan, Nimal Victoria, Rowland Gamlathge and Francis D'Almeida. Musical duo Denzil and Bosco too will render two songs in their own intimate harmony. The Senior Choir of St. Benedict's College conducted by Krishan Rodrigo too will present four songs.

Choro Benedicte trains weekly throughout the year under Francis D'Almedia assisted by Bosco Fonseka.

The concert is being presented as a tribute to the memory of Rev. Bro. Nicholas FSC, a renowned musician, educationist and an ardent apostle of the poor and the marginalized.

All proceeds from the concert, will go to initiate a Scholarship Fund to educate needy students which is the prime mission of the La Sallian Brothers.

Dramatic clash of ‘black’ and ‘white’ worlds in Sinhala

By Marisa de Silva
"Watch out boy, she'll chew you up… she's a man eater!" This is quite ironically true in the case of 'Hyena', S. Karunaratne's translation of American playwright Leroy Jones's famous play the 'Dutchman'.

Presented by the Fine Arts Department of the Kelaniya University and directed by Chamika Hathlahawatte, the play goes on the boards of the Lumbini Vidyalaya auditorium on March 24 at 6.30 p.m.

Young director Chamika who has just passed out with a BA special degree in drama and theatre from the University of Kelaniya directed this play as part of his final year examination for drama and theatre. He had heard of the play, seen photographs and read excerpts of the original work and had been very keen to re-create it with a local cast as its theme was relevant even to our audiences.

When it came down to casting the play, "I first thought of people who would physically fit the roles, then if they had what it takes to carry out the role successfully and last but not least, people who could get on with each other and work as a team, as that's essential for the smooth running of any production," he said practically.

People here, have a wrong notion about translations, as being low quality performances, says Chamika. Translations of quality foreign works are quite essential to the development of local theatre and literature. Some of our best playwrights like Sarachchandra too have used foreign influences in the making of his major works like the 'Maname Natakaya', he adds.

The story revolves around a white woman who uses her sexuality as a weapon to lure powerful black men into her web of deceit. She strings her potential victim along until he cannot bear to stay away from her or resist her charms thus, making him putty in her hands. She then forces him to speak of the suffering and injustices his people are made to face at the hands of her people and finally, she kills him.

Another aspect brought out in this play is the indifferent attitudes of the other white people to her crimes.

"This role is very different -I usually play the role of a typical local girl.

Playing 'Lula', a murderess has definitely been a challenge," says Chamila Peiris 'Clay', played by Dharmapriya Dias, is 'Lula's' victim.

He's a powerful black man, living in a white man's world, dressed like one and acting like one, forcing himself to live a lifestyle pleasing to the white man.

The play was funded by the Research and Publications Fund of the University of Kelaniya, under the patronage of Dr. Patrick Ratnayake, Dean, Department of Fine Arts and Ms. Mangalika Jayatunga.

Other performers include Premajayanth Kapuge (also doubling up as make up artiste), Indika Donald, Thanuja Prabath, Shashikala Erandhi, Mayura Kanchana, Shanthi Pieris, Thanuja Dissanayake, Chinthana Lankaputhra and Nalaka Hapugoda.

Costume and set designing is by Pradeep Chandrasiri, lighting by Ranga Samarakoon, stage management by Hewage Bandula, music production by Tharupathi Munasinghe and choreography by Namal Jayasingha.

Tickets will be available at the LV Auditorium gate.

Kaleidoscopic musical journey from Sujeeva

Well-known pianist Sujeeva Hapugalle will present a 'Dedication Concert' in memory of her father at the Lionel Wendt on March 24.

The evening's programme is a kaleidoscopic journey from the poetic romance of Liszt and Chopin, the vivid impressionism of Debussy, the impassioned lyrical and rhythmic 'tour de force' of Spain and Cuba in evocative Latin works by Albeniz and Lecuona to the rousing atmosphere of jazz, blues and Mardi Gras with Gershwin.

Sujeeva Hapugalle has been highly acclaimed for her versatile presentations. Her work as a solo recitalist, concerto artiste and lecture recitalist has taken her to Europe, North America, the Middle East and South East Asia.

Her repertoire embraces classical, romantic and impressionistic virtuoso piano transcriptions.

Sujeeva studied at the Royal College of Music, London as a scholar of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London.

She was a major prize winner at the Royal College of Music and has also been the recipient of several prizes and awards including the Napper Award and the President's Award, Sri Lanka.

Sujeeva has broadcast on Classic FM (UK) and BBC Television. Amongst other Festivals, she has been a regular contributer to the Concert series of the Chopin Society UK, Sir Yehudi Menuhin's 'Live Music Now' series and the Beethoven Society of Europe, to which she has recently been invited to serve on their Committee.

She was recently honoured with her inclusion in the roster of International Steinway Concert Artists.

In 2001 Sujeeva released a recording made at St John's Smith Square, London of a selection of compositions by Chopin.

A play to make you laugh and think

By Thiruni Kelegama
"Ring Around the Moon", a play by Jean Anouilh adapted by Christopher Fry will be performed by the British School later this month.

"This play may seem a comedy, but it does have serious undertones," says Koshika Sandrasagara, drama teacher of British School, who makes her debut as a director with this play. " I would call it a commedia del'arté."

In simple words, that would mean a charade with music.

“The characters are eccentric and paranoid. But they are witty and this makes it interesting to watch them go at each other.”

"Ring Around the Moon" is woven around a ballet dancer, Isabelle and identical twins Frederic and Hugo. Hugo is portrayed as a ruthless schemer, his twin a softer version. The ballet dancer Isabelle, a sweet young girl, is hired by Hugo to attract his brother Frederic who is engaged to a millionairess Diana Messerschmann. Diana though engaged to Frederic is secretly in love with Hugo. The driving force behind all the complications is the crafty and conniving Madame Desmortes. The humour intensifies as the subplot develops; a secret love affair between Lady India who is Messerschmann's mistress and his secretary Patrice Bomblles.

The theme of this play is loneliness, revealed in every character.

“I wanted a script that would talk to people, give them something to laugh about and also go home with some serious thinking to do. The characters move in a circle, failing to communicate thereby bearing all their insecurities, anguish and loneliness. " "I think this is reflective of society today," says Chandri Jayatillake, who plays Isabelle. "Isabelle is a sweet girl but is manipulated by her mother who is trying to sell her off to the richest buyer. Her mother played by Shashi Ellawala, is an eccentric lady who is 'afraid of having to live in poverty'.

So, she tries to ensure that she ends up having a comfortable life in her old age, with the money her daughter will bring when she marries a rich man.”

However, the most interesting characters would be the twins, Fredric and Hugo. Played by one actor, Bhanu Abayasinghe, he says that Hugo is the alter ego of Frederic and vice versa. Playing dual roles has certainly been interesting for Bhanu.

This delightful comedy is infused with music from Ella Fitzgerald, Robbie Williams, Frank Sinatra, Lou Bega and Louis Armstrong to the eclectic sounds of the Jazz era.

"Ring Around the Moon" will be staged on March 29 at the Bishop's College auditorium, Colombo.


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