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Sri Lankan talent breaks through to Asian high

Works by singing sensations Bathiya & Santhush and Iraj Weeraratne have been featured on Channel V, one of India's most wide based music channel. But at what cost?

The cover image of the album

At a grand launch recently in Colombo of the album 'No.1 hits from the continent' by Universal Music India it was revealed that the producers of the album has included in it among others 2 local hits Neththra by Bathiya & Santhush and Run-Run-Run by Iraj Weeraratne.

Both songs have been doing well recently on Channel V, "Which reflects the tastes and attitudes of a huge youth audience in Asia" according to Raja Kakar, Managing Director of Universal Music India who was present at the occasion.

Both songs have been picked up from albums distributed by M Entertainment. "The company which besides being a distributor of CDs and VCDs have taken on the role of creating and managing celebrities in the local music industry" according to Pradeep Maharaja, Director M Entertainment.

He further stressed that the company's tie-up with Universal Music India has helped them in widening their goals overseas.

Pradeep Maharaja, Director, M Entertainment addressing the gathering launching the album ‘No. 1 hits from the sub-continent’ by Universal Music India. Pictures by Sudath Nishantha

International stardom is a notion that goes through all contemporary music makers, specially the young. Kalakeerthi Premasiri Khemadasa who was guest of honour at the launch of 'No.1 hits from the sub-continent' said that music should be expressed from within one's body giving it rhythm and expression. But if the maestro watched close enough (the performance that evening by Iraj and his young set) he would have realised that these youngsters had those qualities in abundance. What they lacked was a sense of direction.

Music today has become a global language than ever before but what should be realised is that there should be some individual identity tagged on to it to differ from the rest. To state that both Neththra and Run-Run-Run sounded more products of India than our own in more aspects than one, this is putting it lightly.

The fact that one has to break loose from tradition and fine nuances of one's culture to produce modern music can be stated as a bigger a myth today than ever before. All the modern features that are used by young musicians today has opened more doors for them to study the multitude of methods that can integrate the past rhythms of their soil with their compositions.

This brings us back to the statement made by maestro Khemadasa with regard to "music has to be expressed from within ones-self" Yes! but the urgent necessity to be original, specially when harbouring into territories where music is celebrated in mega proportions becomes fundamental.

The 2 albums which have already broken into the Indian music scene is surely a giant step for our young music makers who are talented in many modern features which are demanded when composing music to impress youth audiences.

While these artistes need to be congratulated for getting a slot on one of Asia's top music channels and also for being included in 'No.1 hits from the sub-continent' along with many other pop stars of the region, M. Entertainment and Universal Music India that were responsible in bringing about these events to reality is worthy of admiration. However looking at the two Sri Lankan clips on the day of the launch it was a difficult task to believe the fact that our artistes had the courage to produce something that looked and sounded so remote.

They can take cover behind the fact that music is a universal language but an impression should not be created in our young musicians that the only way to enter international charts is to arm themselves with compositions devoid of any rhythm and verse based on Sri Lankan values or else they will all face the inevitable fate that can be sensed which will befall upon are artistes that are making headway through 'Channel V' in India.

To cite an example 'Sri Lanka he Bathiya Santoshye' the line that is uttered as an introduction to Neththra is all that will be remembered for its Sri Lankan identity.

Competition for young musicians

The seventh Biennial Concerto Competition, organized by the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka (SOSL), is scheduled to take place in May 2006. This series of competitions was established by the SOSL in 1994, for the purpose of exposing and highlighting talented young musicians in Sri Lanka, while encouraging them to strive for excellence in the field of classical music.

The competition is open to any instrumental musician under the age of 30, or vocalist under the age of 35. Applications fall into four categories - vocalist, pianists, those performing on stringed instruments, and wind instruments.

The competition consists of two rounds: in the first, applicants perform a selection of solo works for their particular instrument or voice, chosen according to guidelines set out by the SOSL. Those who pass the initial round will perform a concerto or pieces for voice and orchestra (with piano accompaniment) of their choice at the final round, and the winner in each category will be invited to perform as a soloist with the SOSL at its "Young Soloists Concert" in July 2006.

The winning competitors will also be awarded a cash prize of Rs. 25,000 each, and all finalists will be awarded certificates at the "Young Soloists Concert".

Judges for both stages of the competition are carefully selected for their musical experience and expertise, The SOSL has maintained the practice of inviting at least one foreign judge on the panel, thereby ensuring that standards of performance are in keeping with international standards. Competitors are judged not only on technical ability, but also on musicianship, stage presence and decorum.

Entry forms, rules and regulations, and performance guidelines can be obtained at the SOSL office - 204, De Saram Place, or on the Orchestra Website - symphonyorchestraofsrilanka.org Entries close on December 31.

Yugandaraya examines backdrop to '71 JVP uprising

Maurine plays the role of a tormented mother whose husband has been shot by a British planter during 1915 Sinhala/Muslim riots. Thrishuna Perera is the child actor.

Yugandaraya (story of an era), a teledrama directed by Somachandra Wijesuriya explores the turbulent post '56 times and betrayals that led to the first armed uprising of youth in 1971.

The teledrama shot in scenic Rattota in 57 days has reached the editing table. It is based on Somachandra's controversial English novel 'First Rising" published in 2002 and depicts the tragedy of a fictional Sinhala Schoolteacher family in Kegalle during the 1956-1971 era. The family decays and collapses on the eve of 1971 due to economic stress. Finally, the son of the teacher leaves home and marches to join the rebellion.

Rupavahini Corporation has reviewed the screenplay by Somachandra. The reviewers have commented that Yugandaraya will enlighten the present day youth on many socio-political facets of the '71 uprising.

Maurine Charuni plays a lead role and other roles are played by Wimal Jayakodi, Nimal Yatiwella, Wasantha Pali, Helapriya Darshana, Madhuka Gunatilleke, Somaweera Gamage, Chanaka Fernando, Krishna Kumar, Dilruk Risantha and British actor Daniel Collins. The role of Gunasoma who marches to the rebellion is played by Tushara Godage of the new generation of young actors.

Ratnasiri Paranavithana, Keerthi Ratnayake and Shama Okandapola have assisted in direction. Camera work is of Kithsiri Hewage. Editing is under Lalantha Jayakodi and Ashoka Sellakapu functioned as art director. Make-up artist was Ranjith Wickramasinghe assisted by Priyankara Tilak Ratnayake Co-producers are Kausalya Films (USA) and Somachandre Wijesuriya.

The 1971 Southern uprising is a dividing line of the country's political history. Lessons of history revealed in Yugandaraya will be of interest to present day youth as well as adults who are unaware of the reasons for the uprising. Many discriminating viewers who have read the novel 'First Rising' are awaiting the release of the teledrama.



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