Soul Sounds

Sep 01 2023. views 42

Famed to be one of the fastest-growing globally reputed choir festivals in the world, the Bali International Choir Festival is a great platform for choir performers coming from all over the world. Adjudicated by an esteemed panel of international choral experts, the 12th edition of the festival which took place in July this year brought the spotlight to the nation, as Sri Lanka bagged 4 Gold Medals in the event where over 92 choirs and over 4,000 participants took part. Bringing home the awards was the Soul Sounds Academy Choir of Sri Lanka, headed by well-known musician Soundarie David Rodrigo with the choir conducted by Shivanthi Subramaniam. Sitting with Daily Mirror Life, Rodrigo shared with us, glimpses of the journey to the international victory for the nation.

Q WINNING 4 GOLD MEDALS AT THE 12TH BALI INTERNATIONAL CHOIR FESTIVAL 2023. TELL US ABOUT THIS? The Bali International Choir Festival- 4 GOLD Medal win was indeed something very special. I have to note that the Soul Sounds Academy MIXED choir - even though in existence for quite a while, never really did do big competitions or performances in the years before. However given the current pool of talent in the group, I was determined to push them to work towards an International Competition. As much as it is great to win a Gold medal, it was also important to know the kind of standards from choirs around the world and I thought this would be the best way to learn. So from October last year, we started preparing for the competition.

We entered the Mixed Choir Category as well as the Pop & Jazz Category with some really tough repertoire. The choir was conducted by Shivanthi Subramanium and two soloists, Shenuk Wijesinghe and Rakhitha Widyapathige who also won Gold Medals in their solo singing categories. Rakhitha won a gold in the Children's Solo Category whilst Shenuk not only won a gold medal but also brought back home the trophy emerging as the Category Winner of the Classical Solo Singing category.

Q HOW DID IT FEEL COMPETING WITH MANY NATIONS AND PERFORMING IN FRONT OF AN INTERNATIONAL AUDIENCE? I have always loved competing on international platforms, mainly because it helps us improve ourselves by listening to other work. Also, the attention to detail which one must work on - when working for competitions makes sure each individual voice improves and thereby lifts the standards of the choir. Also being a part of a competition like this, we get to meet different singers from all over the world. We learn about cultures and traditions. We realize that voice textures differ and repertoire differs, but music still brings us all together.

Q DOES THE CHOIR HAVE A PREFERENCE FOR A SPECIFIC MUSICAL GENRE? The Soul Sounds Academy Mixed Choir attempts all kinds of repertoire but I can see that they are more geared towards perhaps attempting acapella repertoire with intricate harmonies. For the competition in the Pop & Jazz categories, we attempted a very difficult Jazz standard - Spain by Chic Corea where all the jury members also commented that whilst taking up a tough piece we were able to deliver it well. So now we are actually working on some tough acapella numbers.

Q FINALLY, DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ANY ASPIRING CHOIR GROUPS WHO WANT TO REACH THE INTERNATIONAL ARENA? My advice is - don't be afraid to dream big. But with that must also come the correct attitude, humility to learn new things, commitment, sacrifices and a lot of hard work. Nothing comes easy. Sadly in the present, fundraising too has to be handled by the choir and the choir director, because we are yet to reach the stage where we have companies or the government that is willing to sponsor like they do for sports. So it's a lot of hard work all around. but we do have talent in abundance, with the correct guidance and nurturing I am sure anyone can reach for the stars.

TEXT Nuzla Rizkiya



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