This year, Bridget Halpé completes 50 years of teaching music. She has been dedicated to music since she was six years old, regularly updating her knowledge by practical training and research, both here and abroad. She holds the L.R.A.M. in pianoforte performance of the Royal Academy, UK.
To honour her achievement, her senior students have joined her family and friends to present ‘Concertaid X–Magnificat!’ It is named ‘Magnificat!’ because it celebrates the dedication and contribution to music culture of Bridget Halpé and the other music teachers of this country.
Bridget Halpé is also a well-known choral director, directing the ‘Peradeniya Singers’, successors to the university singers of the University of Ceylon and the ‘Kandy Junior Singers’ – a group she founded five years ago – besides readily giving advice and training to schools which ask for her help.
The Peradeniya Singers have always given their concerts in aid of worthy charities or on invitation to participate in special occasions such as the Bach/Handel Tricentenary, the Golden Jubilee of the University of Peradeniya, the second centenary of the French Revolution, the ceremonial re-opening of the rebuilt Central Bank Building and most recently, the 50th anniversary of Cuba’s establishment of diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka.
Composing music for lyrics in plays has been another of her activities – she wrote original music for the Dramsoc production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and for the Sinhala translation of Lorca’s Blood Wedding by Hemamali Gunasinghe as well as for extracts from Shakespeare’s As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presented at the annual Schools’ Shakespeare Competition. She also worked with Prof. Sarachchandra on his request to compose counterpoint for the ragadari music of Jayantha Aravinda for the play Pémato Jayati Sōko.
A notable innovation in her teaching has been the use of traditional Sri Lankan songs in the section in the singing examination syllabus which requires a traditional song. She accompanied each song with a translation of the original into English for the information of the examiners.
It has been noted that in her teaching, Bridget Halpé pays careful attention to all aspects of musical knowledge and performance. She has developed a compendium of musical theory for the use of her students and she directs her performance students in the writing of their programme notes. She is engaged in research and analysis, making a structural evaluation of the 48 Preludes and Fugues of J.S. Bach.
All proceeds from this concert will be used to set up a trust fund to help once active music teachers who are no longer able to make a living from teaching because of various disabilities and are in difficult circumstances. They once did great service to their communities, instructing young people and fostering musical culture but cannot do so any longer.
The organisers are expecting a large number of participants not only to promote this worthy cause, but also to enjoy some unique performances. There will be guest artistes like the Ravibandu/Samanthi duo, Ramya de Livera Perera and Soundari David Rodrigo. The concert also includes premiere performances of contemporary works.
Concertaid X—Magnificat! will be presented in Kandy at the E.O.E. Pereira Theatre, University of Peradeniya on June 5 at 6.30pm and at The Lionel Wendt in Colombo on June 13 at 7 pm.