Playing with a smaller group for a smaller audience is intimate, intense and concentrated. This is a belief shared by both Ramya de Livera Perera and Lakshman Joseph de Saram who will be performing at the Chamber Music Society of Colombo’s Beethoven and Mozart concerto that will be held on June 7 at 7.00 pm at the Goethe Institut, Colombo 7.
During rehearsals, Ramya de Livera Perera found time to speak with The Nation and shared her views on classical music and its appreciation in Sri Lanka.
Speaking of the Beethoven and Mozart Piano Concertos, Ramya de Livera Perera said it was special because it was a smaller group that was playing. This allows the playing to be more intimate and she finds more pleasure in playing with a small ensemble.
When asked about the audience of classical music shows, Ramya de Livera Perera said that younger people are taking it more seriously. “It’s drawing more youth. Music is in their curriculum and schools are more interested,” she said.
“There is so much happening now, for instance musicals and drama. Even for dramas, you need a knowledge of music,” de Livera Perera said, and went on to comment on the exposure received by the youth today as opposed to when she was a student. “They are exposed to other types of music as well. Back in my time, it was only through our teachers and the shows we performed at that we had exposure,” she added. She also said the interest youth have for classical music could also be due to the availability of instruments and the bands and orchestras of schools which allow students to play instruments during school too.
While classical music covers modern music too, it is classical music that is the base or foundation of music. Thus even if music branches out, Ramya de Livera Perera said, the base of classical music will never die. Further, classical music stems from chamber music, which is composed for a small group of instruments.
When asked about the audience of classical music shows, Ramya de Livera Perera said that younger people are taking it more seriously. “It’s drawing more youth. Music is in their curriculum and schools are more interested,” she said
She teaches piano and was happy to note that while she teaches classical music, many of her students are doing well in the field and are not only playing classical music. She comes from a family that appreciates music and plays instruments. Ramya de Livera’s mother was also a music teacher. Thus she was surrounded by music.
Ramya de Livera Perera usually plays the violin for the Chamber Music Society of Colombo, but will be playing the piano at the June 7 show. She also plays for the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka.
“Most performers have other jobs too, but one must have time to practice,” de Livera Perera said. One of the violinists at the show, Haasinee Halpe-Andree also said that often she’s exhausted by the time she gets to the rehearsal which is held in the late evening. However, the music rejuvenates them and she added that, “every rehearsal is a learning experience.” In fact, watching them perform, one could easily notice how immersed they are in the music. Ramya de Livera Perera also said, “People think classical music is serious, but it can also be fun.”
Lakshman Joseph de Saram also spoke about the Beethovan and Mozart piano concerto and the Chamber Music Society of Colombo. The Society was founded to, “cater to the high end discerning classical music audience of the region.” The members practice and nurture classical music of the highest kind and as de Saram said, “doesn’t dumb down music to sell tickets.”
De Saram spoke about classical music shows that are held as a way to collect funds and compared them to putting a neon frame to a Rembrandt. He explained that a show is a museum of classical music and the music is framed by the performers.
“Classical music has stood the test of time and isn’t some popular fad,” Lakshman Joseph de Saram said, explaining that if you take an artiste like Taylor Swift, people look at what songs she is releasing now and songs of last year are already forgotten. However, with classical music, the performers play music that was composed 250 years ago.
“This isn’t a hobby,” de Saram said, explaining that the performers are involved in music at a professional level. Thus it is important to have funds for the Chamber Music Society of Colombo, but they don’t collect this through the funds raised through the shows. Instead, the Society has been fortunate to have a long-term premium sponsor, Fairway Holdings, and Lakshman Joseph de Saram said it was important for societies of this nature to receive proper sponsorship.
He was also thankful to the Goethe Institut where the show will be held and rehearsals are held as it offers the environment suitable for chamber music. There is an overwhelming demand and tickets are often sold out a week in advance and it is for this reason that repeat shows are held. “The sounds are very concentrated and it’s a highly educated audience,” de Saram said, adding that they “treat the audience with utmost respect.”
Ramya de Livera Perera will be playing the piano and Lakshman J de Saram will be playing the violin. Cynthia Fernando, violin, Othman H Majid, violin, Haasinee Andree, violin, Avanti Perera, viola, Saranga Cooray, cello and Nilanthi Weerakoon, bass, will also be performing at the show.A repeat show will be organized for all those who are unable to purchase tickets for June 7.