Rich, tuneful strains of music drifted towards us, as we walked into the Ladies' Collage auditorium two afternoons ago. Getting a glimpse of what to expect from the talented youngsters on stage, hard at practice, we got talking to a few of them to find out what was on offer.
|Pic. by M. A. Pushpa Kumara
Fiesta, an orchestral performance to be held on January 26 at the 7.30pm, at the Ladies' College hall, organised by the Thomian Chamber Orchestra, will surely be a captivating experience for those present. Performing together with the orchestras of Ladies' College and Bishop's College, the concert will essentially be "different" to the majority of musical performances presented by schools.
"This is the first time the Thomian Chamber Orchestra has organised a combined schools concert of this nature. The Orchestra first came into existence in 1998, when they performed for the Warden's farewell, and became a permanent body in 2001. It has now grown into a fully-fledged ensemble," said Harith de Mel (17), the Vice President of the Orchestra, who is also a violinist. He added that some of the more recent instances that they have performed would be Rally Around the College Flag, Piano and Drums, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and College prize-giving's.
According to Jurinesz Shadrach (17), a flautist, and the Secretary of the Orchestra, they will be performing a wide array of music at the concert. "Our chosen pieces will range from the 1600's to the 1980's, and will be a good mix." He added that they would be performing "Pomp and Circumstance," "Any Dream Will Do" and an "ABBA" medley.
Explaining that each school will be contributing a piece of music for the combined schools' item, Shanindra de Alwis (17), who plays the recorder and the flute, and holds the post of Treasurer of the Orchestra, added that their contribution will be "Blue Danube Waltz," conducted by Damitha Pieris, the President of the Orchestra.
The Thomian ensemble consists of between 25-30 members between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age. They also were keen to extend their thanks for all the support given, to their masters in charge, Manilal Weerakoon and Dayananda Fernando.
"Our main aim of the performance is to promote classical music, and to attempt to get young people and audiences in general, interested in this types of music," said Harith, emphasising on the reasons behind the initiative of organising the concert. Speaking to Nadeesha Mendis (17), a violinist of the Bishop's College Orchestra, some of the pieces chosen by them will be "Slavonic Dance," by Dvorak, "I just called" "Our piece for the combined orchestra is 'In the Mood," with "Falling in Love" being a chamber performance." Evidently an interesting experience, this is the first time they are involved in a performance together with other schools.
"The Western Music Society had been quite active in the recent past, with the orchestra winning the all-island competition for four consecutive years, while also having performed at numerous school shows as well," said Zainamb Wahid (16), a violinist and the leader of the Bishop's College orchestra. Shenali de Silva (17), the conductor, and originally playing the clarinet for the orchestra, went onto add that their orchestra is made up of about 25 members, between the ages of 9 and 18.
When asked the qualities needed to carry out the role of conductor, she simply said, "You need to have a good understanding of all instruments and it's generally the most senior member of the orchestra," she said, thanking their teacher-in-charge, Ms. Mendis for all the support given.
For the Ladies' College orchestra too, the performance will undoubtedly be a good learning experience, being a relatively new orchestra. "We have about twenty members in our orchestra, between the ages of 9 and 18," said Dhanushi Wijeyakulasuriya (17), leader and conductor of the orchestra. Some of the individual pieces to be performed by them will be "Skater's Waltz" and “The Entertainer” while their contribution to the combined item will be a medley from West Side Story.
Thivanthi Perera (14), a violist, will be performing "Czardas," a solo, with the orchestra backing her.
According to the members of the orchestra, the difference in theirs is more a woodwind orchestra, with nearly 12 violins. "We have been quite active in school, accompanying the school choir in most instances and performing at Collage Cantabile, the choir concert held recently," said Maheeka Seneviratne (17), a flautist in the orchestra. She added that they would like to extend their thanks to Surekha Amerasinghe, their teacher-in-charge. While the box plan for Fiesta is available at Ladies College from January 16, tickets are priced at Rs. 200 and Rs. 500.