Old Joes to give new twist to favourite love songs

By Marisa de Silva

What do you get when 23 young, talented men, in the mood for love, take the stage together? It won’t be long before you find out, as the Old Joes Choir (OJC) presents ‘Amore’ – A Heart’s Journey Through Song,’ at 7.30 p.m., on October 2 and 3, at the British School Auditorium.

“Song is indeed a true embodiment of human emotions, as well as being a heightened mode for expressing man's innermost thoughts and feelings. In this concert we have decided to take our audiences through a narrative trajectory, based on the phases of a common emotion, which will be guided by the songs themselves,” said Choral Director Eshantha Peiris.

“This concert also promises to be ground breaking in the sense that, we believe that it is the first time a Sri Lankan choir has tried a “theme based” concert of this nature,” adds choir leader Rehan Almeida. “The theme will revolve around the primary human emotion - love, via which we intend to implement this concept using the story telling tools of song, and its age old partner – drama,” he says.

Having always been a fan of “drama,” Rehan added that it was in fact a sentiment shared by most of the choir as well.

In terms of the selection of music, “Everything had to be filtered through the Choral Directors’ “typically pessimistic” 'is this chorally viable?' filter. In some cases, the songs just came to us, in others, we had to resort to internet searches to find the specific songs we required,” explained Eshantha.

The OJC has always been noted for its ability to build choral versions of songs that would usually be overlooked. “I think the OJC is blessed with the grace of having more than one choral director working cohesively with the other. Each of us specializes in a different genre of music, ranging from, (and not limited to,) classical, pop, jazz and rock. As for originals, we are privileged to introduce an original composed by Geethika Cooray (Choral Director) at the show,” said Choral Director – Migara Luvis.

“Furthermore, 80% of the arrangements were created from scratch by the three of us, who happen to have rather varied tastes in music. Once the song list was finalized, we chose the songs that each of us would enjoy arranging, or would best do justice to, and then we went onto creating arrangements for our respective selections,” added Geethika.

As for the mix in the choir, Migara insisted that the choir has always been a mix of young and more “mature”. “As far back as I can remember, administrative decisions were almost always made by the seniors because of their experience. But, where music and singing is concerned, nobody is too young or too old to share an opinion. Since the administrative aspect and the choral direction aspects have been split up between the three of us, there's no dictatorship of any kind or form.”

“It has been wonderful to experience the manner in which the new recruits have joined the ranks, and look as if they have been here all along! After all, it gives everyone young and not so young alike, a chance to relive our “glory years” that we enjoyed ever so much,” reminisces Rehan.
“As for decision making, everyone has a say. It is something that my Co-Choir Leader - Shevanka (Fernando) and I have maintained since we took over. The choir belongs to all of us and thus we should all have a hand at steering the ship,” he adds.

“One of the best features of this outfit, is their ability to sustain themselves from within. Each and every aspect of the show is being overseen, and in fact on occasion, handled by choir members themselves – be it choral direction, dramatic direction, sound, lighting, designing or cooking up meals for the choir! This for me, results in a truly unique outlook to the “performance” and “presentation” of choral music by the OJC. A stepping stone we hope to use to help choral music in Sri Lanka evolve, and we believe that this concert will do just that,” Rehan says.

More about the show

Choreography: Jerome L. De Silva Accompanists: Eshantha Peiris (piano), Rukshan Aponso (keyboards), Christopher Prins (drums), Sarani Perera (guitar) & Uvindu Perera (bass guitar).
Guest Performance: Contempo Cast: Ashini Fernando, Dulika Jayamanne & Shannon Misso
Tickets will be available at the venue, and the Genelle Shoe Shop (next to Mahanama College on Duplication Road), from September 20 onwards.

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