de Silva meets local artistes who performed at ‘Child Aid
2005’ at the Sydney Opera House
Proving that the sky is the limit
Local pop sensation Bathiya and Santhush along with Ashanthi
and a handful of local artistes were invited for the first time
ever, to perform with a line up of some of Australia’s most
popular performers, at ‘Child Aid 2005’ held on March
24 at the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House. The proceeds of
the concert were in aid of AustraLanka Helpline’s “Let
Oz Help” Foster Parents Scheme.
rest of their band Randhir Vithana with Mahesh Denipitiya on piano,
Sarangan Sri Ranganathan and American saxophonist David Collins
too joined the popular duo to perform at the Opera House. David
initially got to know B&S when he came down to Sri Lanka from
Okinawa, where he currently resides, to help out in the tsunami
relief effort and joined the duo at a few gigs in his free time.
So when B&S were invited to perform at the Opera House, they
had in turn invited David to join them in Sydney for the performance.
David had jumped at the offer and had been very excited about getting
such a lucky break, said Bathiya.
- an Australian based, non profit, independent organisation committed
to the welfare of needy Sri Lankan children had invited B&S
to take part in this charity concert. They had also invited other
well-known local artistes like, Ranidu and Iraj, Harsha Makalande,
Edward Jayakody, Nirosha Virajini and Sunil Edirisinghe, who would
represent the diverse mix of musical styles found in our country,
approa-ched by the organisers the duo had been told that apart from
the other local artistes, they would also be performing side by
side with popular Australian stars like Vanessa Amarosi, Kamahl,
Christine Anu, Australian Idol star - Anthony Callea, Jan Preston,
Hoodoo Gurus and Dance Extravaganza from Jamie Latin Dance Australia.
Number 1 Radio Personality cum popular host of the Breakfast Show
on Radio 2GB (a leading Australian radio station) Alan Jones, was
Master of Ceremonies at this concert. All artistes performed gratis
and the Opera House too provided its facilities gratis.
are two landmark places every musician dreams of performing at –
The Sydney Opera House and The Royal Albert Hall,” said Bathiya.
There are so many well established musicians both at home and abroad
who haven’t yet got the chance to perform at either one of
these venues. Therefore, it was quite an honour for B&S to be
invited to perform at the Opera House and according to the duo,
it had most definitely been an once in a lifetime experience.
left the country on March 14 for a performance in Berlin, B&S
returned to Sri Lanka on March 19 and within a few days flew out
again, to Australia for the concert. “I was falling asleep
at about five in the evening and waking up at about 11.45 p.m. as
I was suffering from jet lag, but it was worth every minute of it,”
arrival at the Opera House, they had been quite excited and almost
overwhelmed by the spectacle that lay before them. “When we
first got on the 360º view stage, looking up into the audience,
it felt as though we could conquer the world.” Similar to
the image of R. Kelly atop a mountain in the music video of “I
Believe I Can Fly,” was Bathiya’s descriptive first
impression of the Concert Hall. Come D-Day, “the feeling just
took our breath away – it was absolutely amazing!” chorused
B&S in unison.
of the Australian bands had nearly an entire orchestra backing them,
whereas we just had our crew and our music tracks, said Bathiya.
However, Mahesh added enthusiastically, “It was a treat playing
on an original Steinway Grand, which required a separate lift just
to transport it up to the hall.” Bathiya said that Mahesh
had played like never before and that the venue was very inspiring
and just helped them all give out their best.
of the main challenges they had to overcome was to be able to hold
the attention of the huge audience whose musical interests were
quite diverse, explained Bathiya. Also challenging, was adopting
to the nearly 100% perfect acoustics at the hall, he added. They
had performed four of their most popular hits including the song
“Nethara” off their latest album. The entire team of
local artistes had done really well and was received with huge applause
from the 2000-2300 strong crowd come to watch the show, said Bathiya.
& Iraj’ had really managed to capture the younger audience
in particular, whilst the veteran musicians really did the country
proud by promoting the more traditional side of the local music
industry to the international arena. “The class performance
they gave made us proud to be Sri Lankan,” said Bathiya passionately.
It was probably one of the few times both the classical and pop
musicians worked together as one Sri Lankan team, he added.
of the highlights of their act had been that it was tri-lingual
with excerpts of Hindi as well, they said. Their version of “Kiri
Kodu” performed by B&S and Ashanthi together with Nirosha
too had been a hit with the audience, they said.
visited Australia when she was just nine years old, Ashanthi reminisces
how on seeing the Opera House on a tour, she had longed to someday
get the chance to at least watch some artistes perform there. “At
that time, I never thought I would get an opportunity to actually
perform there myself, so it was a huge thrill for me,” she
added. The place is like a huge maze, said Ashanthi adding that
until you’ve been there a few times around, it’s very
difficult to find your way around. All the backstage crew had been
very professional and helpful she said. “It was all a huge
team effort, on the organisers part,” said Ashanthi.
spoke of the time he spent studying in Australia and how he used
to pass the Opera House quite often. “I had always thought
that we would get to sing here someday,” said Santhush adding
that he owes his positive outlook, to his ‘sky’s the
limit’ attitude to life. “Who knows, we might even sing
at the Royal Albert Hall one day!” he added laughing.