Singing their hearts out to bring glory to the country | Sunday Observer

Singing their hearts out to bring glory to the country

The fund raiser: Presta’s Christmas Sing-a-Long will be held at the Holy Emanuel Church Parish Hall, Moratuwa on Saturday, December 14, at 6.00 p.m., with guest appearances from famous artistes. All proceeds will be used to fund the Chorale’s participation at the 11th World Choir Games in Belgium.
The fund raiser: Presta’s Christmas Sing-a-Long will be held at the Holy Emanuel Church Parish Hall, Moratuwa on Saturday, December 14, at 6.00 p.m., with guest appearances from famous artistes. All proceeds will be used to fund the Chorale’s participation at the 11th World Choir Games in Belgium.

Prestantia Chorale made its name surprising the world including its own country, Sri Lanka, when it was awarded gold medals and overall judged second only to one of the world’s best children’s choirs at the Asia Pacific Choir Games (APCG) Colombo two years ago. Now, going one step further, the choir prepares itself to participate at the 11th World Choir Games (WCG) 2020 at Flanders in Belgium. “The event, considered the ‘Olympics of Choral Music’ will take place from July 5-15 and attract thousands of singers from Europe and across the world,” says its website while Prestantia Chorale sings its heart out raising funds to bring glory to the country.

Excellence is what their name means and excellence is who they are. They are the Prestantia Chorale, a group of young people ranging from ages seven to nineteen, with their Instructor and Choir Director, who surprised the nation, bringing fame to Sri Lanka.

Prestantia meaning excellence in Italian was the name of choice when Dr. Priyeshni Peiris-Perera, started her own music school seven years back. Though she works as a university professor, it was the nagging thought that she could give more to her nation’s future generations which propelled her start the school, she recalls. The school started with just two members, has now grown to one with more than 200. Perhaps, Peiris-Perera is the only person with a doctoral degree in Western Music who had chosen to come back and serve the nation. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the North Dakota State University and a Master’s Degree from the University of Tennessee, Texas Tech University School of Music.

Many, leaving the shores of the isle for higher achievement in music and arts are domiciled in the West, but not Peiris-Perera.

“My husband, was keen to come back to his students, so was I,” she says. The husband and wife duo are university lecturers. Her return and subsequent establishment of a music school of her own achieving her childhood dream – were milestones in gaining international fame. It was also a chance opportunity, she explains, being grateful to Chirandinithi, the mother of her student Chethaitwa, who drew her attention to the competition and was an encourager all the way through. “I was not very sure, as we only had about six months to the competition, but she always held on to the faith that we can do it. The children were amazing. They have immense talent and are very disciplined. So are their parents. I receive huge support from parents,” she says.

That was how, Prestantia Chorale, hailing from a rather unheard of city South of Colombo, took the world of Western Music by storm two years ago.

“Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine such achievement,” Yelani Li (19) exclaims in wonderment of her successes, national as well as international through the short time she has been a member of the Prestantia Chorale. Though initially she had questioned as to why they practice the same songs for months as they prepared for the competition, participating at the APCG and thereafter being invited to China as part of the World Cultural Festival team opened her eyes to the immensity of the international world of music and how they were simply, slowly and surely introduced to it by their choir director.

“I was amazed when we won the gold medal and I felt proud and knew we could do anything,” says Avin Perera (9) one of the younger members of the Choir. Though they worked hard and for a long time, it was not as intense as practicing in his school choir, he says. He feels happy to meet different people from varied countries and to explore the world. He is keen in participating at the WCG 2020. It is the dream he dreams every day, every minute of the day. WCG 2020, the Olympics of Chorale Music, is also the dream that the team dreams collectively. “Teamwork made our dream work - back in 2017. Now we’re dreaming bigger. Help us make our dream work and be a part of it today,” appeals their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pg/PrestantiaChorale/)

Not just stopping at dreaming, they put their dreams into hard work, singing their hearts out in an effort to raise funds. Presta’s Christmas sing-a-long is one such effort during the festive season, the proceeds of which will be used to fund the choir’s participation at WCG 2020. A raffle draw, sponsored by parents will also add strength to their efforts. The public interested in sponsoring the choir are requested to contact Rukshan +94-77-244-1501 and Eranga +94-77-343-7428 for details.

(VF)

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