By Raisa Wickrematunge
The air is filled with drumbeats. The Colombo Percussion Trio, Ravi Bandu, Upula Madushankar and Krishina play their drums with passion, rhythm and evident enjoyment. They are performing to announce the Colombo Music festival, to be held next year, from August 24 to 26. The Festival, dubbed ‘Senses and Soul’ will showcase a diverse range of music genres and influences. All of this with a local flavour, since the musicians are either local or Sri Lankan expatriates.
Musicians of all ages will be performing anything from fusion to oriental, folk, pop, rock, jazz, and even classical and choral music. Among those who are expected to perform are popular rock band Stigmata, Iraj, fusion band Thriloka, the de Lanerolle brothers, Voice Print, Rukshan Perera, Kumar De Silva, Sureka Amarasinghe and Shanelle Fernando. Choristers from the University of Visual and Performing Arts will also perform.
So, why the urgent need for a music festival? Event Director Haadia Galely explained that the Festival’s aims were threefold. The first was to provide knowledge, by way of experts. The idea is to provide discussion between genres. The second was entertainment, by way of celebrating music in all forms. Finally, it is hoped that there will be a host of opportunities available for young, up and coming musicians hoping to get into the business.
Galely explained that she wanted to put Sri Lanka on the map of World Festivals. As such, this will be no run-of-the-mill concert. Apart from the musical performances, there will be workshops and discussions, including master-classes. Here leading experts from Sri Lanka and abroad will show amateur music enthusiasts how to hone their skills. There will also be an ‘open stage’ event where new musicians will be allowed to perform, by registering online. While Waters Edge is to be the official venue for the event, there will be several other locations, such as the island in the Beira Lake and the Lionel Wendt, which will host ‘fringe events’ as well. There will also be food stalls and even a beer garden. Arun Bias Bandaranaike, spokesman for the Colombo Music Festival, said that Sri Lanka deserved to be recognised for more than Sigiriya in terms of arts and culture. “For far too long, Sri Lanka has had a negative image. We believe that through music, we can represent ourselves more positively,” Bandaranaike said.
He pointed to the importance of creating a platform for public and international awareness, citing landscape architect Geoffrey Bawa and artist Justin Deraniyagala as examples.
He also promised that the wide variety of musicians performing would lead to some unusual collaboration, perhaps even some improvised ‘jam’ sessions.
It was announced that on some days there would be events going on simultaneously, leaving music-lovers spoilt for choice.
All in all, the Colombo Music Festival promises to showcase a diverse range of local talent, and hopefully, uncover budding performers as well. Audiophiles- watch this space!