Lankan performers in India with classical repertoire

August 21st, 2011 - 1:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 21 (IANS) Two young western classical musicians from Sri Lanka, Rohan De Silva and Tharanga Goonetilleke, who have collaborated with eminent musicians around the world, will perform at the Siri Fort theatre in Delhi Aug 22 to showcase the island’s emergence as a classical and choral music destination.

The performers, from the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York, will be presented by the High Commission of Sri Lanka and the Indian Council For Cultural Relations (ICCR).

Rohan De Silva, a pianist who had played in the White House in 2007 at the invitation of then US president George W. Bush, has partnered with Itzhak Perlman, Cho-Liang Lin, Midori and Joshua Bell. He has played at all major recital venues across the world. A series of concerts in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are planned for October this year.

De Silva, who joined the collaborative arts and chamber music faculty of Julliard in 1991, is also associated with the Ishikawa Music Academy in Japan, where he teaches collaborative piano.

An award-winning soprano, New York-based Tharanga Goonetilleke was the first Sri Lankan woman to be accepted by Julliard School. Tharanga’s operatic milestones include Mimi in La Boheme (Puccini), Pamina, first lady in Die Zauberflote (Mozart) and Ginevra in Ariodante (Handel).

Sri Lanka, which has a long history of civic strife, has been trying for the last three years to pitch itself on the global music scene as a storehouse of western musical talent through its choir bands and classical musical instrumentalists. Every year, the country sends choir and contemporary music esnembles to the South Asian Bands Festival in India and collaborates in regional orchestras.

The music of Sri Lanka originates from three cultural sources - Buddhist rites and chants, the Portuguese colonisers and India.

The Portuguese colonisers, who arrived in the mid-15th Century, brought with them cantiga ballads, ukuleles and guitars, paving the way for western music to flourish in the country.

Western classical music has been studied and performed in Sri Lanka since its introduction during the British colonial era in the 19th Century. The Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka is one of the oldest in South Asia.

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