22 January 2013

Students of Nelu-Kapila Academy reap a musical harvest

Times change and with changing times tastes also change.  As people get older their favorite songs get played less and less or else they are forced to listen to stations dedicated to ‘oldies’ or wait for those special programs where yesterday’s favorites are played.  It is natural for older people to find new music crude.  Perhaps it is less a matter of crudeness than something to do with technological revolutions that make for more experimentation and easier broadcast, resulting naturally in cacophony. 

The problem, though, is that some of the criticism is valid.  Attention to detail, the blend of lyric and melody, determination to produce excellence, choosing the correct voice that complements word and sentiment, are all things that appear to have been compromised.  What is called ‘music’ becomes music for children because that’s all the music they hear. 
One can lament. One can criticize.  One can do other things.  Nelu and Kapila decided to do something else.  Teach.  It was not an exercise that sought to fight a tide, nor one which posited one particular genre above another.  They decided to expose children to all kinds of music believing that they will come to their own conclusions but in a more informed and nuanced way. 

There were seeds of melody and word that they sowed. They tended with love and tenderness what the musical-earth put out thereafter. Now it is time for reaping.  This is the short story of ‘Miyesi Lamaa Tharaka’ (Musical Child Stars), a concert where different kinds of songs, Sinala and English, are sung and celebrated, to be performed on January 27, 2013 at the Sirasa Stein Auditorium from 5.30 pm onwards.
Bandula Nanayakkarawasam, well-known lyricist and a closer observer of the entire process over the past two years (‘like a brother, from the point of naming the academy onwards,’ he said) spoke exclusively to ‘The Nation’ about the concert and especially about the work that went before. 

‘They call it “Nelu-Kapila Music Academy” but there’s actually a third individual who has been part of the process.  Lionel Bandara, a music teacher at Royal College, is not just a highly skilled violinist but an excellent instructor.  A close friend of the couple and indeed a neighbor, Lionel has expended as much effort as have Nelu and Kapila.
‘It was and is a perfect combination.  Nelu has studied both western and oriental music and is top class artist.  Kapila who was Music Director at YATV has composed for many films, teledramas and television and radio commercials.  They are parents of two children and are eminently qualified to work with young girls and boys.  Lionel is a neighbor and a very close friend.  They are all degree holders from Heywood, Lionel and Kapila being from the same batch, in fact, Nelu being a year junior to them.  They decided that instead of complaining, they could generate new music that was better or teach.  Teaching is about enhancing ability as well as the powers of discernment.  These ideas have been incorporated into the very environment of learning which, although in the heart of the very urban Battaramulla, appears like an ashram dedicated to the study of music. ’

The items for the show were carefully picked, Bandula, who composed the theme song ‘Ira handa tharu obamai’ (you are the sun, the moon and stars) said.  It is a collection of timeless favorites (the timelessness being the ultimate test of quality) such as the children’s song mal pipee deneth piye.  The show ends with Amaradeva’s ran dahadiya bindu bindu, another classic where lyric contains profound meaning but in the simplest language. 
‘The entire orchestra is made of children.  An unique feature is that some highly acclaimed artists will also take part, not as “guest performers” but as unobtrusive “encouragers”.  For example, Edward Jayakody and Pradeepa Dharmadasa will sing a few lines of ha ha balagenai.  Lakshman Wijesuriya will be featured in ho ga ralla binde, Indika Upamali in peenamuko kalu gange and Harshana Dissanayake in emba ganga.   They will thus bless these children.’

Songs from the seventies, especially those of the Dharmaratne Brothers, Moonstones and Super Golden Chimes, will be heard along with classics from theatre, nurthi gee such as kumatada sobaniye, ale benda maage ramyavan, yasa isuru, sirisangabo and ada vessanthara.
It is not an ‘Oldies by Children’ show, though.  Several English medleys have been penciled in, for example an arrangement featuring ‘Top of the World,’ ‘Dancing Queen,’ and ‘Brown Girl in the Ring’.  Another would be a medley of ‘By the Rivers of Babylon’ and the Beatles’ favorite, ‘Obladi Oblada’.  An English-Sinhala mix will also be performed, with olu nelum neriya rangala being arranged with ‘For a few dollars more’ and ‘El Condo Pasa’.  It is not just songs, for the children will have an exclusively instrumental rendering of the theme song from ‘Chariots of Fire’ and ‘The Last Waltz’. 

‘The entire exercise has a simple objective.  The Academy believes that the world’s sorrow can be lessened by the saptha svaraya and that life can be re-written more tenderly through song.  Fittingly, they’ve invited Nanda Malini (who graced the opening of the Academy as Chief Guest), Rohana Weerasinghe and Malani Fonseka as Guests of Honor representing singing (and teaching), composition and film respectively.  It is a collective effort with all the parents chipping in with ideas and other kinds of support, the children learning and practicing with dedication and the teachers nurturing them tenderly.  This is why, at the end, when the children sing ira handa tharu obamai, their teachers sing the words back to them, declaring that they, the children, are in fact the sun, the moon and starts.’
Bandula would know for he has put in all his considerable event-scripting skills to the arrangement and fine-tuning of the program.  It promises much, for child and adult.   

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2 comments:

මධුර said...

Thanks for the post.if you can please let us know any contact number of them. coz am seeking of attending this academy.

මධුර said...

Do you know any contact numbers of them?the academy?