A dream comes true | Sunday Observer

A dream comes true

The music is not only beautiful but it is “music with a message”, comments veteran violinist Megumi Sato from Japan, a JAICA volunteer and a trainer of NYO

It is going to be a treat to your senses! Mesmerising is his music! Belonging to the Late Romantic period, Gustav Mahler, the Austrian composer packed emotion and meaning into the music he wrote. No wonder some young musicians in Sri Lanka fell in love with it. “Brilliant, terrific and terrifyingly challenging,” they find his works. Now, in the true spirit of youth standing up to challenges they have risen up to bring a full symphony of Mahler to Sri Lankan audience along with the works of another ‘challenging’ composer Edward Elgar. ‘Resurrection and Enigma: Introducing Mahler and Elgar’ the maiden production of the Gustav Mahler Society of Colombo (GMSC), will be presented on August 28, 2018 evening at Nawarangahala.

The concert is conducted by young and accomplished musician Srimal Weerasinghe, with Vidhurinda Samaraweera another proficient young musician serving as the Assistant Conductor. The specialty of ‘Resurrection and Enigma’ would be its 80 member strong orchestra, bringing together great talent in a diverse group of musicians, of different gender, age and experience. Many of these young musicians are also connected with the National Youth Orchestra (NYO). The ilk of veteran musicians could be seen in their willingness to play alongside youth supporting and encouraging their effort.

Being included in this kind of orchestra, is a dream come true, a great privilege and a huge experience says 14 -year-old oboeist, Minuka Jayawardane, a talented musician who also plays in the Wind Orchestra (WO), NYO and the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka (SOSL) time to time.

Sandali Tilakaratne, the principle clarinettist, who had been involved with the NYO since 2013 agrees. “As a musician from Galle, playing such a demanding repertoire in a diverse orchestra with exceptional players is a privilege for an outstation player,” she explains.

Whether young or old, all have fallen in love with the music they play. Both Mahler and Elgar compositions are “beautiful and very different from what we usually play. The variations, instrumentation takes you to a different world altogether,” comments Sandali. “I love its solo parts,” says Minuka. Mahler has incorporated “terrific horn parts in this composition. It has revolutionised modern orchestral music. He is our favourite composer,” admits Assistant Conductor and principal horn player, Vidhurinda Samaraweera.


The music is not only beautiful but it is “music with a message”, comments veteran violinist Megumi Sato from Japan, a JAICA volunteer and a trainer of NYO. “This music would make you feel differently. Through his music Mahler showed us how one could overcome struggle. Elgar’s music includes his life in association with others. Both depict the love for life and humanity. There’s a different person depicted through each variation of ‘Enigma’,” Megumi says. She is happy about the choice of music by the young musicians. “Though Mahler’s symphony is quite lengthy it is serious music. Many works touch you at a superficial level, but not Mahler’s. He had put his whole self in it and it reaches the furthest and deepest corners of people’s hearts and emotions. It makes you feel deeply.”

Megumi hopes that Sri Lanka would benefit much from this kind of music. “It is soul music with a healing quality. It unites people. It brings hope.”

Uniting is what the music has done to the orchestra. “It is like a big family,” all say about their experience. An orchestra would bring your character to fore, say the musicians. Playing in an orchestra is harder than playing alone. One needs to pay attention to others. Aware, alert, listening and ready to respond. If one instrument misses a beat – gets late or plays ahead, it could mar the whole performance. Orchestras develop character. You become a good listener and a responder.

“It is a tough programme. To see it all coming together under Srimal is just like a miracle. It’s a powerful experience,” explains Vidhurinda.

Veteran musician Ananda Dabare is happy that the young musicians have chosen well. Mahler and Elgar’s works are “very serious, challenging and extremely demanding. It is good for young people to select this kind of music.” He appreciates young people’s participation. “The tendency in studying as well as appreciating classical music is growing. Though young people have been part of our orchestras now we can see them more and more in the audience as well. However, he is saddened by the dearth of young career musicians in Sri Lanka. “We have very talented young musicians. However, after reaching a certain level, they leave the country and then decide to stay abroad,” he laments.

Perhaps that’s the question the young musicians who established Gustav Mahler Society of Colombo (GMSC) aspire to answer. The objective of the GMSC is to make classical music available to a wider audience, says Vidhurinda, a founder member of the society. “This is our first step. Later we plan to conduct workshops within and outside Colombo. Currently there are orchestras established in schools mainly in Colombo. Young people have shown an interest in playing instruments and playing together in orchestras. Though there is a vast difference between popular and classical music interest could be created in the way we deliver it.”

That’s what the young musicians plan to do. To create a love for classical music throughout the country and to open up the vast plethora of classical music for the enjoyment of Sri Lankan audience. ‘Resurrection and Enigma’ is just their initial milestone. We wish them success!