17th July, 2005  Volume 12, Issue 1

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


Indian Art: Tradition and modernism

Ganesh Arts  presents an exhibition of a group of artists from India and abroad, established within the Bharatha Shakti Charitable Trust, India.

The drive behind this exhibition is Indian culture. This is a theme as broad as its ancient culture. The artists have used a variety of media to capture this spirit, depicting myriad scenes and images of India.

They offer a unique glimpse of India's timeless heritage, that mystical, intangible essence that has fascinated the world for many centuries, and also depict the winds of change sweeping through the more contemporary aspects of its culture. Cross cultural understanding between India and Sri Lanka is one of the main objectives of this exhibition.

"Being India's closest neighbour we thought it most appropriate to share the first glimpse of the current exhibition here in Sri Lanka, before proceeding to the UK, France and Ireland." artists Ramakrishna and Klaus Duffy said.

Their main aim is to spread the value of art education throughout India and her neighbours. They also plan to make art classes part of the national syllabus in all schools throughout India.

"Our immediate goal is to build an art school within our existing school; we strongly believe that we can make this possible. We intend starting art classes for children of all ages. For those who are interested and talented, we will provide further training, that they may become self sufficient and receive ongoing employment in the fields of arts and crafts. The total proceeds of this exhibition will go towards the building of this art school," the artists said.

The Bharatha Shakti Trust has provided free education, healthcare, food and accommodation for up to 1000 students for the last 10 years. They have already started art classes for children in their free time and during their holidays.

The current exhibition features artists from abroad who have lived and worked in India as well as talented artists from India who have completed their training at the Pondicherry School of Arts.

The exhibition will be held from July 19-31, at 6/3, Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7 from 9 am to 9 pm, and would be a good opportunity for Sri Lankans to view and own works by established and talented younger artists.

Launch of Benedictine Memoirs

St. Benedict's College, Kotahena, the oldest Catholic school in Colombo officially celebrates 140 years this year. To commemorate the occasion, the College will release Benedictine Memoirs, a book comprising 140 accounts penned by its old boys. A first of its kind. The book is edited by Neil DeVotta, assistant professor of political science at Hartwick College, New York.

     St. Benedict's College boasts old boys' associations in London, Melbourne, New York, Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver, and it therefore does not surprise that exactly half the memoirs have been authored by old Benedictines domiciled abroad permanently. Printed by JF&I Printers, the book is sponsored by the St. Benedict's College Development Fund, with all proceeds going towards the St. Benedict's College English Education Fund. The book is dedicated to the Brothers of the Lasallian Order who have laboured in Sri Lanka and especially at St. Benedict's College.

The book has sought to include Benedictines from all walks of life (actors, architects, authors, businessmen, clergymen, doctors, educators, engineers, journalists, lawyers, military personnel, politicians, professors, publishers, scientists, sportsmen, and professionals of various trades), although some of the more recognisable names among contemporary Sri Lankans Include Venerable Narada Maha Thero,Vidyajyothi Viswa- prasadini Dr. A. N. S. Kulasinghe, Dr. A. W. R. Joachim, E. C. B. Wijesinghe, Horace Perera, Ravindra Randeniya, Ranjit Fernando, Fr. Felician Perera, and Lasantha Wickrematunga.

This is ultimately, a book celebrating the mission and ethos of St. Benedict's College. As such it represents a legacy and an appreciation of one of the island's leading educational establishments through the words of its former students. This then is the story of those once young boys who document candidly their upbringing, education, Catholic heritage, loyalty, pranks, disciplining, exploits, excellence, and frustrations. Not only is the book revolutionary in its concept, but it also tabulates a rich oral history unlike anything hitherto documented in Sri Lanka (and perhaps even the world). Benedictine Memoirs thus represents a unique contribution to Sri Lanka's literature even as it is a paean to the institution that is St. Benedict's College.

Professor Neil DeVotta will present the  first copy of the book to the St. Benedict's College Director, Rev. Bro. Granville Perera, during the College Prize Giving on July 29.

Numbering over 400 pages, the book is published in hard cover with a handsome jacket that captures appropriately the historicity of the school. It is priced locally at Rs.1,500. Those interested in obtaining copies of the book should call the St. Benedict's College Director's office on 2431025, Felix Dias on 2693250, Ravi Irugalbandara on 0714272444, or  Anton Carvalho on 2459303.

Japanese Soprano Eriko at Young Soloists' Concert

The 48th season of the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka will open with its popular Young Soloists' Concert on Saturday,  July 23. Namali Fernando will be the cello soloist in Schumann's Cello Concerto. Anusha Alles will be the pianist in Mendelssohn's  Piano Concerto in G minor. And Eriko Perera, soprano, will sing arias and songs by Haydn, Puccini, Johann Strauss II and Richard Rodgers.

Eriko's programme is delightfully tuneful. Her first aria will be Haydn's joyful With Verdure Clad which celebrates the new life and greening that the Spring season brings. This is to be followed by one of Puccini's most popular love songs O Mio Babbino Caro from his one act opera Gianni Schicchi. Richard Rodgers' If I Loved You from his show - Carousel follows. In this, Julie,a young mill worker, sings of the growing attraction she feels for Billy the carousel barker. Eriko will close with The Laughing Song from Johann Strauss II's operetta Die Fledermaus, music of Vienna at its most lighthearted.

Eriko started singing in her native Japan at the age of 10. She received several prizes as a student soloist including the Silver in the Sanyo Music Competition. On exchange at high school in Illinois, USA, she took the role of 'Peppermint Patti' in the musical Peanuts. At university in Kobe she broadened her repertoire from Western classical to include jazz and Japanese traditional folk song.

After settling in Sri Lanka Eriko began her studies with Menaka Sahabandu. She performs regularly  in Colombo, and  also  sings to entertain affected people in refugee camps in the south.

The Young Soloists' Concert conducted by Ajit Abeysekera will commence with Beethoven's dramatic 'Coriolan' overture. HSBC is the sponsor. It will commence at 7 pm at Ladies' College Hall. Tickets are available at Titus Stores, Liberty Plaza and from the SOSL office.

Piano recital by Eshantha Peiris

An Evening Of Brahms, a piano recital by Eshantha Peiris, will be presented at the Lionel Wendt Theatre on July 6, at 7.15 pm.

A winner of the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka's Concerto Competition in 2000, 19-year-old Eshantha is currently completing his final year in a Bachelor of Music degree at New York University. He grew up studying piano with Ramya de Livera Perera and violin with Anande Dabare, and has appeared on two occasions as a piano soloist with the symphony orchestra. In addition to accompanying the St. Joseph's College Choir and playing the organ at All Saint's Church, Borella, he was a founder member and keyboardist of the rock band 'Noitrotsid'. He also holds a Diploma in Piano Performance from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Eshantha currently studies classical piano with Eduardus Halim, composition with Marc-Antonio Consoli, and jazz with Rich Shemaria at NYU.

This all-Brahms programme includes the notorious Variations On A Theme by Paganini and the youthfully passionate Sonata In F Minor and promises to be a treat for all lovers of Western classical music. Tickets are available at the Lionel Wendt box office.

Books galore!

By Lakshman de Silva

Going past the Nawaloka Hospital in Slave Island I saw a sign board right opposite the hospital which was a bookshop. Interested.. I stepped inside.

There were new and used books all over the place, all nicely arranged. These books were not only for sale but also for lending and exchange. In the racks were novels both new and old, and also books on literature, history, philosophy, religion and on various other subjects.

The name of the bookshop owner was P. H. P. Dawood. But he said he was known to people as Deen, that being his pet name. He said that from the age of 15, for eight years he had been working  for Peter, who had a bookshop at D. R. Wijewardana Mawatha.

He said that after collecting books from various places, he had started his own bookshop under the name of Priyankara Bookshop also at D. R. Wijewardana Mawatha. He had this bookshop for 23 years, before moving to Slave Island last January.

So as I stood there inside the bookshop I glanced at them under the titles they were named. For literature there were books on Shakespeare, G. B. Shaw, Gustave Tlavbert, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Marie Correlli Jawarhalal Nehru, Boris Pasternak and many others including books on poetry and prose by famous poets.

In the lending library there were about 500 books, some of women's favourites including Mills and Boons Publications.

There were also books by Danielle Steele, Sydney Sheldon, John Grisham, David Baldacci, Mario Puzo and many others including some rare old publications such as by Leslie Charteris, Peter Cheyney, Erle Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie and also there was a good collection of old westerns. These westerns were favourites of readers in the '50s and the '60s. Even today mainly among eleders there are those who continue the habit from their young days and read westerns.

I asked Deen how is the business getting on in this new book shop in Slave Island. He said that as he is residing in Slave Island it is very convenient to him and that he can open the shop at 7.30 am to offer a better service to customers including school children and office goers. He closes the shop at 8.30 pm.

At this time when Deen was speaking to me, a customer came in search of a nursery school book, who said he was from Wekande. He appeared to be in a hurry, but was happy that he got the book that he wanted. There were others too who were eagerly going through books. I also noticed there were  Sinhala novels as well.

Deen also told me that as Slave Island did not have a bookshop which catered to school children as well, his neighbours were happy with this conveniently located bookshop.

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