Dec 14 2018. view 21
The Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka gave new meaning to the true magic of Yuletide with the SOSL Family Christmas Concert held on Sunday the 9th of December at the Ladies College Hall.The performance commenced under the baton of Dushyanthi Perera who has established a reputation for conducting stirring performances by the SOSL. The concert featured renditions of well-known Christmas carols that kept the audience enthralled from start to finish.
Opening with Loreena Mckennitt’s ‘The Bells of Christmas’, the sweet music filled the hall with only a preview of the delights to come. One couldn’t help remembering the poignant lyrics
“The stars that dot the sky above, Hold you in their precious keep, So close your eyes and come with me, The Christmas bells will bring you home,”
as this was being played.
Dmitri Gunatilake followed next with a breathtakingly beautiful rendition of the much-loved Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam, ‘O Holy Night’ which earned her a roar of thunderous applause. Joining her on stage afterward was Niran De Mel and their performance of ‘You Raise Me Up’ was thrilling and a delight for all to hear.
The voices of the Old Joes’ Choir and the Menaka Singers blended harmoniously as they sang various other Christmas carols such as ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’, ‘Carol of the Bells’ and various others.
Nilupul Silva lead the orchestra as a solo violinist for John Henry Hopkins Jr’s ‘We Three Kings’ and what a fine rendition it was! The ability of the orchestra in making traditional Christmas carols sound new was truly amazing.
The concert resumed after a short break with ‘There’s Christmas in the Air’ which was truly stirring. Niran De Mel performed a solo of Agustín Lara’s ‘Granada’. The evening progressed with delightful presentations of Paul Lavender’s ‘Latin Gold’, Leroy Anderson’s ‘Blue Tango’ and ‘Mary, Did You Know?’ and concluded with sing-along carols such as ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, ‘Silver Bells’, ‘Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer’, ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Feliz Navidad’.
Celebrating over sixty years of music in Sri Lanka, the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka (SOSL) is one of the oldest orchestras in South Asia. The SOSL has organized many outreach programmes for which they have travelled as far as Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Galle, Kandy and Kurunegala in order to perform pieces that have helped to awaken interest in classical music among the youth and allowed children to see and hear live orchestral music for the first time in their lives. This year was no exception as the SOSL Family Christmas concert programme featured traditional music with a contemporary twist, much loved Christmas songs and some decidedly Latin items, all designed to swing the audience into the spirit of Christmas.
Keeping in mind the importance of being conscious of those less fortunate, the Orchestra, choirs and soloists performed a Christmas Outreach Charity Concert, a charity concert, to 210 children and teachers, on the day prior to the public concert. Children invited from Jaffna, Mannar, Monragala, Galle, the SOS Village, Piliyandala, orphanages from Usvatikeyyawa and from low income settlements in the greater Colombo area, were all given a taste of Christmas through the joyous music they heard and the gift pack of food given to each of them at the end of the concert. In addition, the 75 children from outstation, were gifted a t-shirt made specifically for their individual sizes.
It was heart-warming to see their expressions as they listened, with rapt expressions, to live orchestral, festive music for the very first time in their lives. The Mannar children had never seen so many different instruments and were simply amazed by the sound of the orchestra. The audience, especially the outstation children, loved the concert. A Jaffna student’s description summed up the children’s overall experience: “It was mesmerizing”. The performance received the standing ovation it deserved, and the Family Christmas Concert did a splendid job of ushering in the true spirit of the Christmas season with their exquisite performance of favourite carols and holiday masterpieces.
“What a great evening! There were so much variety and lovely melodies.A big thank you to the SOSL for enriching my Christmas.”
“This is my second time and my friends’ first and we are really have enjoying the music and presentation.”
“This is my first time and I am really appreciating the concert. I can feel my holiday spirits rising already.”
“We are enjoying the music very much. The beauty of it is there are so many people playing together and whether they are known to each other or not, they match so well.”
“I think it’s magnificent and as we know some of the musicians, it’s even more special to watch them perform.”
“The concert is very nice and the music is lovely. I like how they have done different takes to the traditional Christmas carols, it’s very enjoyable.”
“I think it’s a very good concert; they have managed to make traditional carols sound new.”
“I never expected it to be so good...the conductors, the soloists and all the performers are amazing.”
“Lovely concert. We really enjoyed the music and singing.”