Rachel Halliday Singing is her passion | Sunday Observer

Rachel Halliday Singing is her passion

12 July, 2020
Rachel Halliday
Rachel Halliday

A lovely aria sung by a beautiful mezzo soprano voice soars and fills St. Andrew Scot’s Kirk in Colombo. It is a performance of Mascagni’s well loved  opera, Cavalleria Rusticana  and the lovely mezzo voice singing Voi lo sapete o mamma belongs to Rachel Halliday, an award winning Sri Lanka singer.

Rachel Halliday is no stranger to music having been born to a musical family. Father Roger Halliday played clarinet for the Philaharmonic Orchestra and music, mainly classical, filled the Halliday home. Brother Denham  is a guitarist, now domiciled overseas and sister Amanda is following in Rachel’s footsteps as a singer, and possess a remarkable soprano  voice.

As a student at Methodist College, Rachel was a member of the School Choir. She also took part in inter-house singing competitions and was often the winner of the individual sections.

Vocal training

At 14, Rachel started learning the piano under Priyanthi Perera and completed her  Grade exams.

After schooling  Rachel read for a degree in Natural Sciences at the Open University but decided to follow her passion, music.

At 19, she started vocal training under Menaka de Fonseka Sahabandu  and this was the turning point in her musical career. Menaka introduced her to Barbara Segal who along with Menaka is always there to guide and mentor Rachel. Rachel says of them “both my vocal tutors have playeda massive role in my achievements from singing examinations to performances with the Gustav Mahler Orchestra.”

Rachel did her teacher/mentors and all her loved ones proud when she won the prize for obtaining the   highest  marks  in the island for the LTCL  in singing recital for 2019. Unfortunately, the prize-giving had to be postponed owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In August 2018, Rachel Halliday premiered with the Gustav Mahler Orchestra as the soloist, her lovely mezzo soprano thrilling the audience. Her other appearances with the Gustav Mahler Orchestra are, soloist for the 2019 Christmas Concert, soloist at Lakshan Perera’s Missa Grandis, a sacred choral work, singing the well loved Ruckert lieder  song cycle  and also at the Chritmas Concert in December 2019. Here she was a soloist in the performance of Dr. Lalanath de Silva’s composition, the Christmas Oratorio.

Lead role

The highlight of Rachel’s singing career so far has been the playing of the female lead of Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Mascagni’s well loved opera. The male lead was played by Thomas Kinch  and the opera was performed under the baton of Maestro Peter Crockford and Maestro Christopher Cowell handled the stage direction.

Cavalleria Rusticana was a production by Barbera Segal Opera International in collaboration with Menaka.

Rachel had master classes with renowned people such as Maestro Peter Crockford, Maestro Christopher Thornton–Holmes, Maestro Carlos Conde-Gonzales and Madame Janine Roebuck.

Rachel also won a scholarship to visit South Africa and participate in master classes  organized by Maestro Njabulo Madlala. She also received lessons from Prof. Kamil Khan and Maestro Dominic Wheeler.

Choral Director

At present, Rachel is the Choral Director for Wesley and Musaeus Colleges and the Choral Conductor for the  Gustav Mahler Society. She is also an External Instructor for Voice at the University of Visual and performing Arts, Colombo. About her work here she says most of the students come with a background of Eastern music and that it is an uphill task to get them oriented to Western classical music but that she does it somehow.

She is an avid reader with who- dun-its  and horror stories being her preferred genres.

Married for just two years to marine engineer Sahan Seneviratne, Rachel says she still feels very newly married as Sahan is away most of the time at sea.

Rhodesian ridgeback Bella is the latest addition to the family and Rachel is very busy attending to her needs. She says it is good practice for the time when she and Sahan would start a family.    Rachel is very grateful to all who have helped her in her musical journey.