The GMSC returns with Missa Grandis | Sunday Observer

The GMSC returns with Missa Grandis

Srimal Weerasinghe conducts the Orchestra  Pic: RoarLK media
Srimal Weerasinghe conducts the Orchestra Pic: RoarLK media

The Gustav Mahler Society of Colombo (GMSC), is a performing arts organisation working towards the revitalisation of Classical Music in Sri Lanka. The Society hosts an over 100 strong Orchestra and a Chorus, to stand out among its peers as the largest performing ensemble in the country.

Established in June 2018 by young conductors Srimal Weerasinghe and Vidhurinda Samaraweera and promising singers - Rachel and Amanda Halliday, the Society has presented two landmark concerts, despite the obvious challenges to entrepreneurial ventures.

The Society's inaugural concert, Resurrection and Enigma: Introducing Mahler and Elgar was in August 2018, at the ‘Navarangahala’ auditorium, Royal College, Colombo. It was conducted by Srimal Weerasinghe with violinist, Ananda Dabare as concertmaster and an orchestra of 80 professional and amateur musicians who presented Mahler's work as a tribute to him, whose revolutionary symphonic compositions revitalized classical music in the 19th century and is the aspiration of the Society for the 21st century.

The concert’s program consisted Mozart’s Zauberflöte Overture, Mahler’s Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen and Urlicht (from his 2nd Symphony Auferstehung) and Elgar’s Enigma Variations. Rachel Halliday, a classically trained mezzo-soprano, was the soloist for this concert, which was critically well received by the audience as well as musical professionals - “…the greatest concert ever heard on Sri Lankan soil in several decades that created a true and pure orchestral sound…”.

The society presented it's second concert,Christmas with Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker in December, 2018, at the Defence Services College Auditorium, Colombo. The orchestra led by Concertmaster Ms. Megumi Sato, consisted of an ensemble featuring 50 players and was supported by the Chorus, a mixed ensemble, consisting also of 50 vocalists. The Orchestra and Chorus was conducted by Vidhurinda Samaraweera, who made his debut as the Associate Chief Conductor of the Society.

Encouraging home grown music, the concert also premiered an arrangement of Do you hear what I hear, written by Shannon Jacob, a Sri Lankan alumni of Berklee College of Music, Boston.

Missa Grandis

The Society, fulfilling one of its objectives - that of building a much-needed platform for Sri Lankan composers to premier their work, is presently gearing to bring out its next concert, Missa Grandis. The concert is titled after a choral mass composed by the 27-year-old Lakshan Perera, a talented Sri Lankan composer who has also composed three other full symphonies.

Lakshan, started his musical journey at the age of 10 by singing and playing the piano and concert flute. He was a student of Holy Cross College, Kalutara. Later on, he began studying composition and was able to compose several pieces within a short span of time. He’s also active as a singer and an organist with several choirs.

This will be a landmark event in Colombo’s Classical Music calendar as it marks the world premiere of Lakshan's masterpiece. The Concert (Choral Mass) will be conducted by Srimal Weerasinghe, Chief Conductor of the GMSC who returns to the podium after the groundbreaking inaugural concert of the orchestra last year.

It will feature soloists, Samali Liyanage (Soprano), Rachel Halliday (Alto), and Trevis De Silva (Tenor). The Choir of St. Benedict’s College, Colombo13 will be the Chorus for the performance.

The Choral Mass (in Latin) will be performed on March 3, 2019 from 7.30 p.m. at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Polwatte.

Everyone who loves Classical Music (and those who are yet to experience it) are invited to the Choral Mass. Entrance is FREE.