Rose back with baton for SOSL Christmas concerts
Mr. Rose hopes to conduct a choral
workshop on the lines of UK summer schools next April for all singers
and choral directors. "The last time I was here, I was quite
impressed with the standard of music," said Mr. Rose who hopes
to hold a week-long workshop where the participants could rehearse
particular works to improve on their singing techniques. The workshop
will culminate with a concert, featuring the participants. "The
only obstacle however, is the lack of sponsors," he says. Therefore,
any interested parties could contact either Mr. Rose or the SOSL.
Conductor cum Music Director, Gregory Rose is back in
the island after his successful Haydn's 'Creation' six months ago.
Rose will be guest conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka
(SOSL) at their two Christmas concerts to be held at the Ladies
College Auditorium on December 12 and 14.
Having a father
who was a professor of music at Oxford University and a conductor
cum composer, it was quite natural that Mr. Rose himself entered
the musical arena. An internationally acclaimed conductor, who kicked
off his professional conducting career 20 years ago, he has over
the years conducted over 100 premieres of orchestral, choral and
ensemble music concerts throughout Western and Eastern Europe.
of his career have included a Ravel and Schoenberg concert with
the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, an all-Rachmaninov programme
with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Baltic premiere of Elgar's
Dream of Gerontius, and concerts with the London Mozart Players,
the Netherlands Wind Ensemble and the City of London Sinfonia. He
has appeared in festivals throughout Europe including at the BBC
He has conducted
many opera productions and even toured Britain last year, with Bizet's
'Carmen'. Earlier he was the Chorus Master for the Wexford Festival
Opera in Eire staging operas by Tchaikovsky, Leoncavallo and Wagner.
His first concert
on December 12 will be the SOSL's Family Christmas Concert, where
the orchestra and the chorus, initially trained by Soundarie David,
will sing traditional Christmas carols and several songs performed
by the young tenor Asitha Tennekoon, including Schubert's 'Ave Maria'
and Adams' Holy City. "I'm going to try and prompt a lot of
audience participation too," says Mr. Rose, enthusiastically.
The concert will conclude with choruses from Bach's Christmas Oratorio
and Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.
of the Christmas Symphony Concerts on the 14th will feature a range
of classics like Rossini's Tancredi Overture and Edward Elgar's
much loved Cello Concerto, with Tamara Holsinger as cellist. Mozart's
brilliantly tuneful Violin Concerto No. 5 with violinist, Neela
de Fonseka and a more extensive selection of choruses from Bach's
Christmas Oratorio are also included.
Korner by Dee Cee
A Master's touch
Everyone calls him 'Master'. The impactful poster adorning
the walls throughout the city announced the felicitation ceremony
for Dr. Premasiri Khemadasa (he was recently awarded the D. Litt
by the Ruhuna University) as 'a tribute to the Master Musician of
our time'. 'Master' was the simple title chosen for the evening
of 'memorable melodies created by Master Khemadasa' over the past
four decades. They were undoubtedly memorable. The audience at the
BMICH that evening had heard these over and over again. Yet they
were so refreshing. That's the Master's touch.
was escorted amidst the usual drumming to the front row, followed
a few minutes later by the lighting of the pol thel pahana, it was
obvious he was feeling rather uneasy. He was impatient to go up
and get on with the job he is used to, just as he was, forty-eight
hours earlier at his usual haunt behind the BMICH car park getting
the orchestra to rehearse for the occasion. Barefooted he was running
here and there guiding, instructing, demonstrating.
The show started
with the haunting melody from 'Golu Hadawatha' bringing back memories
of the popular 1968 Lester James Peries creation. From there we
were taken through Khemadasa's journey to free Sinhala film music
from its South Indian clutches and transform it into a meaningful
indigenous, pleasant to hear creative effort. Not many of us knew
of Khemadasas's links with pioneer filmmaker Sirisena Wimalaweera
in the 1950s. 'Rodi Kella' was the first film in which Khemadasa
provided music. This was followed by Ariyadasa Peiris' 'Sobana Sitha'
(1964) and B. Nandisena Cooray's 'Sepatha Soya' (1965). However,
he really made his mark in K. A. W. Perera's 'Senansuma Kothanada'
(1966) and when Latha Walpola sang the popular hit 'Adaraye Ran
Vimane' , the audience was spellbound.
We had heard
Sanath Nandasiri and Latha singing that lilting song 'Dedunnen Ena
Samanalune' from T. Arjuna's 'Vasanthaye Dawasak' but possibly most
of us had forgotten that it was yet another Khemadasa creation.
Sanath also sang the ever popular 'Duleeka'.
For four decades, Khemadasa's has virtually been a lone battle.
Possibly he would have felt relieved when the appreciative audience
enjoyed every bit of the show. I wished the introductory remarks
were cut down to the barest minimum. And what was the necessity
for the whole thing to be repeated in English? A few lines in English
in the programme note would have been sufficient for anyone who
did not understand Sinhala to follow the show.
word of advice to sponsors. It's great when you lend a hand to recognise
an artiste of maestro Khemadasa's calibre. But why spoil it repeatedly
shouting about the sponsorship - and that too, in two languages.
Just make the point once - the audience will remember it because
they appreciate the sponsor's effort. But when, in addition to banners
on either side of the hall that hit you right through the show,
the presenters keep on repeating the same message, the audience
really gets fed up. And that's exactly what happened that evening.
Fire. It's a collection of colour. Reds squirm in through
yellows and blues. The main focus is hazy and up to the viewer to
contemplate and decide.
That is Jagath
Ravindra's collection for you. "Gindarin epadeema" (Born
out of fire) his third solo exhibition at the Paradise Road, Gallery
Cafe opened last Thursday and will go on till December 24.
A holder of
a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Keleniya, Jagath took
to painting at a very young age. But it was only on completing his
university education that he understood the gravity of art. "Art
is undefinable. What I might consider a work of a genius, another
might not. It's the complexity that drew me to it."
about art depends on individual perception. "Contemporary artists
draw a lot of inspiration from present happenings," says Jagath.
"I myself was a university student when the troubles began
and it influenced my work a lot even at the beginning. But now I
take a more philosophical role with my work."
to establish a firm idea of what each exhibition will entail by
studying a probable theme for a few months. After a theme is decided
upon he gets to work. Detailed works of the given theme follow in
a series of paintings. Mainly acrylic on canvas.
His last two
exhibitions held at the Gallery Cafe during the past two years focused
on Silent Figures and Broken Dialogue. With Silent Figures he concentrated
on the nature of our society to accept whatever happens regardless
of the consequences. "We tend to accept anything and everything.
After the economic reforms there arose different opinions. But our
society is still the same."
Does his work
have a political angle to it? "Not exactly. I just try to reflect
society in my work to the best of my ability." The central
point of all the paintings in Broken Dialogue was a torso. "I
never featured an entire human body in that exhibition."
This year his
main theme has undergone little change. He believes that society
is falling apart. There's nothing that can be done to stop this
destruction. But yet, it is only through this destruction that life
will once again prosper. Life will be born out of fire. Perhaps
chaos is not only an ending.
worked with a multitude of colours to give birth out of fire, dust
and ashes."The collection at this exhibition is thought provoking.
"That is what I want to achieve."
of sheer joy in Kandy
From Bach to Bartok - A review
This was an afternoon of masterful music, entertaining
and exhilarating. It was a great idea to encourage young students
of music by giving them free tickets. We are truly grateful for
this gesture. Those who came in spite of their cramming for end
of term tests were unanimous that they had lost nothing but gained
a wonderful and rich experience of music.
the orchestra performed standing - the 'cellos, of course, excepted
- an attitude which enhanced the string playing. The saree clad
cellist seemed quite at home with her music and her costume!
To start with
I must say that the two National Anthems were played exquisitely.
May I dare say that the Sri Lankan National Anthem has not been
played with so much colour and feeling ever before.
In fact, it
shone more than the theme from the last movement of Beethoven's
Choral Symphony which was chosen as the anthem of the European Union.
The Bach Double
Violin Concerto (which we playfully call the Dark Bubble) was a
subtly controlled performance. The soloists not only sang out the
seemingly seamless texture of the two violins, but also showed a
wonderful balance of counterpoint between 'solo' and 'tutti'.
The sheer beauty
of this work was further enhanced by the different timbres of the
two violins. The first violin was bright and shimmering while the
second violin was mellow and smooth. Was this a conscious choice
of instruments or a happy coincidence?
It is interesting
to note that Bach gives pride of place to the second violin in the
first and second movements of this work.
The first violin
comes scintillating in the brilliant third movement which in this
afternoon's performance was truly awesome! Both violins and the
supporting tutti maintained an incredible Allegro with professional
precision down to the triplets and sparkling runs. The soulful second
movement too, was executed with just the right degree of expressive
This was followed
by Preshanthi Navaratnam singing the popular arias from some of
Handel's best known works. Perhaps the spirit of "Rejoice greatly"
could have been truly captured with a slightly quicker tempo.
part of the programme began with a pleasing choice: the romantic
Symphony for strings in B minor No.10 by Mendelssohn, the cheerful
"sensuous" waltzes of Dvorak and the lively, energetic
and passionate Rumanian Dances by Bartok which were a fitting climax
to this special afternoon of music. The Allegro of the Mendelssohn
displayed a slight insecurity in intonation by the second violins.
But that said, I reiterate my heartfelt thanks to the European Union
Chamber Orchestra for giving Kandy an afternoon of sheer joy through
their choice of programme and their artistry in performing it.
common belief that " Kandy is a sleepy town" the European
Union Chamber Orchestra took up the challenge to perform in Kandy,
I believe for the first time, and I hope they'd perform again for
us in the future.
was held at the "sleepy" time of 2.45 p.m. on a Sunday
afternoon. I wonder why?
audience turn out and the response was ample proof that Kandy is
wide awake when it knows that something good is coming its way!
- Bridget Halpe
of post-impressionist modernity
of the solo piano concert by the German pianist Dieter Koehnlein,
at the Lionel Wendt Theatre, on Tuesday, November 26, 2002. Presented
by the Goethe Institut Inter Nationes Colombo
is such an inadequate word to apply to a range of musical expression
that encompasses over a hundred years of development through many
stylistic ramifications and interpolations, with contributions and
influences from every corner of the globe effecting subtle as well
as overarching change from Traditional New Orleans through Swing,
Harlem Stride to Boogie Woogie, through Be Bop , Hard Bop and Free,
from Cool via Fusion to Smooth. Therefore, to have called Tuesday's
concert a "Jazz Night" was curious if not symptomatic
of misplaced enthusiasm.
played not a single "standard" from the American or European
songbooks of Tin Pan Alley fare, and even the ubiquitous "blues"
was mostly absent. He played just one 32 bar theme, while all the
rest were departures upon his own melodic and harmonic concepts,
and, often playful whimsy. He rarely " swung" along the
well-worn rhythmic patterns of dotted eighth notes, but rather,
developed peaks and troughs by way of emotional tension and release.
His leaning was tellingly European, and his craft was lovingly hewn
out of the rock-mass of post-impressionist modernity. This was no
barroom frolic, neither was it a highbrow excursion into the abstract
or esoteric. With disarming candour and an appealing stage presence,
Koehnlein took his audience into his world of self-expression without
the least hint of unease or self-consciousness. Comparisons are
odious, but, as terms of reference it may serve to say that one
encountered the sound clusters of Don Pullen, as one did the intricate
devices of Denny Zeitlin, and the bold experimentation and management
of " sound" pianism that marks the work of Ran Blake,
in the various moods and intentions of this pianist. His touch was
always assured and often brilliant in terms of such digital dexterity
as one has come to associate with Phineas Newborn Jr, as well as
with his stunning protege Harold Mabern. Notably in his delineation
of the aforementioned 32 bar theme, did one become aware of those
sharply intense, fingerbusting chordal and scalar approaches, as
Mabern would do. (However, Mabern 'swings' ferociously while Koehnlein
does it differently!) Koehnlein also favours greatly, the modal
approaches that defined some of the post-1960s work of other pianists
(remember, Keith Jarret's Koln concerts?); and this was most evident
in the spontaneous improvisations that he delivered with panache
His acute sensitivity
came to the fore in another rather poignant departure which was
dedicated to the memory of a tragic figure of 19th Century Nurmberg,
the unfortunate Kaspar Hauser, who was discovered at 16 after being
locked in a container all his life without light or air, and fed
on nothing but bread and water, and granted no leave to meet with
or talk to a single soul until he surfaced unkempt, unclean and
speechless in 1828.
Deiter turned in a wonderful meditation, a sort of " organic"
tone poem based on just four bars of melodic fragment, which built
up to an awesome crescendo of angst and despair reaching a climactic
call against the vilest social injustice that would lock and debase
an individual to further the ends of political intrigue. (Incidentally,
Koehnlein is not the first to be inspired musically by the spectral
image of Kaspar; "Night Vision'' is the title of a song by
Suzanne Vega on "Solitude Standing,'' the same album that contains
``Wooden Horse (Kaspar Hauser's Song") It was a year ago, that
Cornelius Claudio Kreusch, another first rate German- born improvising
pianist arrived for a concert in Colombo, under the aegis of the
Goethe Institut. That Deiter Koehnlein performed this year is eloquent
testimony to the German Cultural Centre's commitment to providing
the best among performing artistes to entertain and treat a worldwide
- Arun Dias Bandaranaike