Kala Korner - by Dee Cee

A right royal farewell!
It was indeed a Royal Farewell to the Super Golden Chimes. A packed Navarangahala - mainly old Royalists, their families and well wishers - gave a standing ovation to the Group at the end of the three hour concert last Sunday, organized by Group 79 in aid of a worthy project - the Skills Development Centre. It was also a tribute to the late Clarence Wijewardena who not only formed and led the group but also proved how Sinhala music can be popularised with simple words, catchy tunes and innovative melodies.

For most of us, it was going down memory lane. The Super Golden Chimes was the rage in their day three decades ago. They were a young, dynamic group. Their concerts were a treat. After Clarence's death, they virtually faded away. Most of the members had left seeking greener pastures. We could only see and hear Clarence's able assistant, Annesley Malewana accompanied by Indrani Perera, that too occasionally. Obviously on Annesley's initiative, the others came over for what they called the 'Final Reunion'. And what a reunion it turned out to be!

Though they had added another at least thirty years to their age, everyone had the same vigour and vitality as in the good old concert days. To see them perform in the same youthful, vibrant mood was great. And they were so happy to be at Navaranghala where they began with Super Golden Chimes Concert I in 1969, if I remember right. They sang all the popular numbers stating with two selected ones from the Moonstones days. It turned out to be a good mix with a fair amount of English numbers thrown in. Just to prove that they are very active still, they sang a few numbers from a new CD, which has just come out on the Torana label.

"It was a lot of planning months ahead. The last two weeks were hectic," Annesley admitted. That was after his colleagues arrived from numerous places - from Sydney to New York. Old Royalist Rukshan was in fine form. His innovation of using just the voices for a medley was highly appreciated. We saw Chandralal enjoying himself thoroughly.

Nimal, Sunil, Srikantha, Kumar, Dixon and the rest had not lost their touch. Guest artiste Joseph Visidagama's tribute to Clarence by way of a composition using the titles of the latter's songs was quite a surprise item. And of course, the ever-green Vijaya Corea added that extra touch with his choice of words and presentation, as he always does. It's nice to see Annesley keeping the flag flying.

His voice is still as fresh as it was when we first heard him in the sixties. Keep it up! The climax came with 'Kanda Surinduni' - the ever popular invocation to Kataragama Deviyo which Clarence composed when one of his mates met with an accident. Yet the Group insisted on singing a medley to wind up. The best of Clarence was there.

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