Kala Korner - by Dee Cee

In search of quality
How much music fans are starved of real quality stuff could be seen from the way the young and the old gathered at the BMICH the other day to listen to Pandit Amaradeva. He himself was surprised because just a few days earlier he was worried that tickets were not getting sold. When the 'Sold Out' tag appeared in an advertisement on the morning of the show, disappointed fans panicked. But there was nothing one could do. By the time the show began, every possible space was occupied both in the main hall, and the balcony. In fact there were extra chairs put in. Who says there isn't a following for good music?

Soothing instrumental music of the maestro's popular numbers greeted us. As the hall filled up, we realized the air conditioning was faulty. Yet the next two hours were simply enthralling. We were treated to a show of a lifetime taking us back to the days when Amaradeva gave life to the words that Mahagama Sekara, Sri Chandraratne Manawasinghe, Dalton Alwis and Madawela S. Ratnayake wrote. While some of the best lyrics came from their pens, we had virtually forgotten that it was Sekara who wrote 'Arichchi borichchi' in 'Getawarayo' (1964), 'Siri sara bulthvita' in 'Saravita' (1965) and the Los Caberellos number 'Gayana geyum' in 'Delovak Atara' (1966). These demonstrated Amaradeva's versatility.

Narada Dissasekera sang Manawasinghe's creation 'Pipip pipi renu selena' from 'Ranmuthuduwa', one of the better quality films of the day (directed by Mike Wilson in 1962)and he did it exactly the same way he did it 42 years ago. The dance item created by Ariyaratne Kaluarachchi for 'Arichchi Borichchi' showed how beautifully and meaningfully such pieces can be done without getting scantily dressed girls to move their bodies in the name of dance.

There was pindrop silence as the master sang with timely comments in between, devoting time to pay tribute to his 'guru', Pandit Sri Vishnu Govinda Jogg, with his "first love", the violin, ably supported by Wijeratne Ranatunga on the tabla and D. D. Gunasena on the harmonium. Chitrasena and Vajira sat right in front watching Amaradeva bring back nostalgic memories of the days of 'Nala Damayanthi' and 'Karadiya' performed over four decades ago. In what he called "a new form of musical experience", he demonstrated how he was inspired by Professor Sarachchandra to explore the operatic traditions in creating music for 'Vessantara' and 'Loma Hansa'.

It would have been an unforgettable evening for the Ranaviruvo who had turned up in their numbers thanks to the kind gesture of a philanthropist.

Excellent teamwork
'Amara Piyasara' was yet another example of how teamwork could bring excellent results. From the day Amaradeva's wife, Wimala visualized the concept to present him not only as a singer but a great musician who had contributed so much for the progress of music, dance, films and theatre in this country over the past six decades, an eleven member team coordinated by Sunil Fonseka got down to the task. The show was proof that they had done a superb job.

Rohana Weerasinghe once again proved his ability as a talented music director in not only leading the 15 member orchestra but more importantly, maintaining the identical tone and rhythm that we were used to in listening to the maestro. Upali Herath's simple stage decor was impressive. The meaningful manner in which Karunaratne Amarasinghe and Sunila Abeysekera presented Amaradeva touching on his contribution to the different aspects of our arts wascommendable. Ravindra Guruge managed the technical side professionally.

I was most impressed with the way the main sponsor, People's Bank kept a low profile without any jarring jingles and announcements being made in between the show. Well done!

It was a wonderful evening. Of course, there were those who asked why he did not sing 'Shantha me re yame' or 'Sasara vasana turu'. We all have our favourite numbers and tend to feel disappointed when they are missing. The only way to remedy the situation is by planning 'Amara Piyasara 2'. It will be a sell out, no doubt. Over to you Sunil!

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