The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Hands in harmony

The Methodist College Choir promises a stunning repertoire at their upcoming concert ‘Canto Vivace’

Apart from near perfect harmonizing and impressive dynamics, the first thing the onlooker notices about the Methodist College Choir at practice is the movements they make.

Is it choreography? Apparently not, similar to the gestures made by the conductor of a choir, slight hand movements seem to be made almost unconsciously by these performers as they fine tune what they promise will be a stunning repertoire at their upcoming concert- Canto Vivace- to be held on June 28 and 29 at the Lionel Wendt.


“The science behind the movements is something I picked up on a while back,” comments director Sanjeev Jayaratnam as he watches the choir he has been training since January 2010 practicing a rousing Sinhala Medley. “I first saw this being done when I watched a practice by the Manado State University Choir when it made its debut tour to Sri Lanka in November last year, and decided to try it out.”
Safe to say the random experiment was a success. From the softer moments of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from Les Miserables and ‘In Paradisum’ from Gabriel Faure’s Requeim, to the exuberant chorus of Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’, the movements help create a certain intensity and energy which would normally be difficult to achieve.

“It was very interesting to learn that movement- whether it is a slight jerk of the shoulder or a fluid motion of the hand- could help the voice- or voices to create certain effects; perform tricks,” says Sanjeev. “When I first suggested this practise to the choristers there were a few raised eyebrows and a little reluctance but now, the movements come naturally to them and really help at practises.” With a few days left before the show opens, Sanjeev is confident that the combination of talent, passion and commitment; and of course a few tricks of the trade, has resulted in a special performance.

“I have never seen a group that has mastered such a wide range of dynamics,” he says, “and their versatility helps them perform well in several genres.” And the genres the choir will perform in Canto Vivace are as varied as the dynamics their Director speaks of. From classical to contemporary and everything in between, the repertoire also contains a few interesting experiments- one being an entire song without words- a performance the choristers are particularly proud of.

“The experience of this concert has been extremely challenging, but rewarding as well,” says Keshia Kumaresan (17) and her friends Robesha Christy, Joanne Symons, Thyasha Dissanayake, Sindhu Ratnaraja and Menaka Edeman agree.
The group of senior choristers agrees that the choir has evolved a great deal, incorporating new styles of singing into their performance. “It is very liberating for all of us, comments Thyasha.

“We really enjoy ourselves at practises; and the experience of working in a team is really great.”
Despite having to balance time between studies and other extra-curricular activities, the group agrees that the discipline they have learnt to cultivate in the process of practicing for the concert has helped them to achieve a better sense of balance than before.
The Methodist College Choir is accompanied by Dharshi Edward, Neranjan de Silva and Christopher Prins. They will be joined by Asteria, a premier female choir in Sri Lanka trained by Mahen Peiris, which consists of past pupils from the school; as well as the MC OGA Choir, “Metho Cantanti” trained by Anagi Perera.

Tickets for the show priced at Rs. 1000, 750, 500 and 300 are available at the school office.

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