12th August 2001
Sports| Mirror Magazine
By Eranda Jayawickreme
'slippage...' a collection of original Sri Lankan writings in English, was launched at the University of Peradeniya on July 18 under the auspices of the university's English department.
Edited by Harshana Rambukwella, an English Honours graduate from Peradeniya, and Matthew Rotando, an American writer and academic in Sri Lanka on a Fulbright scholarship, this slim 43-page volume-which derives its name from French philosopher Jacques Derrida's concept of 'aporia', or the continuous postponement of meaning- represents a laudable attempt at gathering a collection of the best and more innovative work of this country's small group of English-language writers.
Ten writers are anthologized in this collection, with known figures such as Jean Arasanayagam and Carl Muller sharing space with younger and lesser-known authors.
Possibly the major difference of 'slippage...' is the attempt to put together an anthology of high-quality work, as opposed to acting as a medium through which aspiring writers can see their work in print for perhaps the first time. Such publications already exist- the English Writers' Co-operative's 'Channels' and the Young Writers' Association's 'Final Draft' are two examples- but undoubtedly there must be an anthology that endeavours to separate the wheat from the chaff and publish only work of genuine merit, even if it results in a relatively small publication.
The collection itself is an appealing mixture of youthful innovation, well-honed skill, strong emotions and frivolous observation. Faridah Haque bookends the collection with two poems, 'Live In My Eyes' and 'By The Light Of The Moon', and in the latter offers a justification of her persona as writer; 'bound by a leitmotif of bleeding fingers', she 'cannot write symmetry' or adhere to disciplines and forms, but instead must celebrate life as it touches her. Carl Muller is as incorrigibly humorous as ever in the God-bashing 'The Dinner Party', where he takes on Christian blind-faith and evangelicalism with characteristic relish, as well as a considerable lack of subtlety. Prashani Wijesinghe, better known in university circles as a playwright, is represented here by a short poem on the joys of hawk flight.
Three writers- one a 'grand old lady' and the other two relative greenhorns- tackle this country's ethnic conflict and its horrible consequences in contrasting styles. Jean Arasanayagam's 'The House Of Your Childhood' chronicles the destruction of a village of upbringing, documented now only 'in memory's parchment', which has become a 'benighted place of ghosts and spectres' from which even the occupying soldiers would prefer to escape.
Her attention to detail and the myriad images used to evoke the village in both epochs reminds the reader of how dreadful the impact of the civil war has been on a vast number of this country's inhabitants. 'Johnny Patriot's Fatal War Dream' by Damayanthi Fernando-who was short-listed for the Gratiaen award in 1999- is a laudable attempt at political allegory, although the use of stereotypes, such as the presence of the tarty Ms Lovejoy and the even more randy-sounding Ms Boobytrap, and seemingly forced pseudonyms (the Silhuns and Tilhuns) detract somewhat from the boldness of the idea.
Perhaps the most innovative piece in the collection is M. Abeyaratne's surrealistic prose piece 'A train jumped in front of a woman tonight'. Here, a complete alternative reality is created through a seemingly simple transposition, in which passengers are 'shredded by the woman's brooch' following the collision. Pia Sonderegger's 'Plants' is a short, entertaining vignette of a foliage-obsessed husband, while Udena Ranatunga- another YWA member- attempts a bolder understanding of affection in 'Everything Has A Time'.
This writer contributed a poem, 'You', which is, unfortunately, somewhat shown up by the other work in the collection. On the whole, however, the editors should be commended for producing a tight, highly readable collection in a petit, convenient format, and the inclusion of intelligent-albeit slightly offbeat- biographies of the selected authors added a nice touch at the end.
Music lovers in Colombo can look forward to an enjoyable evening when two well known Sri Lankan musicians, Gayathri Peiries and Soundarie David, team up at the Lionel Wendt Theatre on August 12, at 7 p.m. to present a programme ranging from opera to perennial favourites from the musicals and semi-classics.
Gayathri, a product of Holy Family Convent, learnt singing with Maryanne David before going on to study at the Royal Academy of Music and graduating with a Bachelor of Music, Diploma. She later enrolled at the Mayer Lisman Opera Centre. Gayathri's vocal talents won her the top spot in the International Singer of the Year competition held at what is considered the Mecca of the singing world, the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, and she made her West End debut at the London Palladium in 1999 as a soloist in "Sunday Night Variety".
Soundarie David was a member of the Symphony Orchestra before she went abroad to study music. She now has a Postgraduate Diploma of the Royal College of Music, London, having studied with Patricia Carroll. She has worked with leading pianists and accompanists such as Martino Tirimo, Bernard Roberts and John Blakely, and has given recitals and concerts, both as soloist and accompanist, in Sri Lanka as well as in the U.K. Her versatility in both the classical and popular repertoire has won much acclaim.
Gayathri Peiries and Soundarie David were featured in a highly acclaimed concert at the Swan Theatre, London, last month.
The programme for the August 12 concert at the Lionel Wendt Theatre includes songs and solo piano works by Ivor Novello, Hammerstein, Lloyd Webber, Johann Strauss, Donizetti, Rachmaninov and Hugo Wolf. Proceeds from the concert will go to The Lanka Alzheimer Foundation, a non-governmental organisation.
By Nihal Wiratunga
In an auspicious launch of their 44th season of concerts at the Ladies College Hall on July 14, the Sri Lanka Symphony Orchestra under the baton of gifted violinist Ananda Dabare presented two outstanding young performers - Rashika Perera (cello) and Thushani Jayawardena (violin).
The evening's programmes commenced with Bizet's popular L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1 - an orchestral work in four movements which offered much scope to the orchestra to showcase its versatility and professionalism. Unfortunately the orchestra let this opportunity slip by with a rather indifferent performance. The strings were unable to produce, in the Adagio, the sustained soft tonal colours and musical texture they had produced in the minuet. Similarly the woodwind which sounded rich in the minuet was patchy, lacked cohesion and body in the Adagio.
The Orchestra however redeemed itself with the solid support it gave the evening's first soloist cellist Rashika Perera in her performance of Lalo's celebrated Cello Concerto in D Minor. This work arguably one of the most interpretively and technically challenging, written for the cello, saw Perera, although distinctly hampered by a niggling shoulder problem, showing a fine technique and expression in her searching, skillful and fluid playing. What was even more noteworthy and pleasurable was the deep, resonance and rounded sound she consistently produced from her instrument - something of a rarity on the local stage where the flatter sound is unhappily more the norm. It is clear that Perera, with her solid technique, innate musical sense and sensitivity, would blossom to be an accomplished cellist, under her foreign teachers when she proceeds to America later this year.
Glinka's Overture Ruslan and Lyudmilla, a lively and spirited composition, which was the penultimate segment of the programme saw the orchestra come alive and play with an air of liberation and exhilaration which was lacking earlier. It would appear that the orchestra in general and the strings and woodwind in particular are more at home with a score taken at a livelier and more strident pace. The woodwinds were vibrant and the strings had body - an attribute which is central to any good orchestral performance. The Bruch Violin Concerto in G Minor performed by Thushani Jayawardena proved to be a revelation. Indeed, it was the "piece de resistance" of the evening. The confidence and authority she displayed for one so young and lacking in concert experience was exciting to behold. The finely tempered violin tone, the crisp phrasing, the fluency and the vibrato gave testimony to a fine bowing technique. The slow movement sustained and dominated by the rich tapestry of the cantabile melody, and the final movement with its evolving mood of exhilaration which leads on to the finale - an exciting coda full of elation was executed with a delightful aplomb and flourish.
It would be remiss of me to conclude this review, without a comment on the orchestra. Despite their initial blemish they gave a satisfying and enjoyable performance. There is no doubt that they have come a long way as a musical unit, despite the youthfulness of their members. However, they still have a long way to go to reach the professional standard which they and their conductors aspire to. The continued support of the music-loving public will be an inspiration to spur them on their journey to excellence.
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