In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she was the musical fairy who played the piano and the recorder. In real life, she continues to be a musical fairy in a variety of projects. Shannon Jacob arranged the music for the video, Berklee Celebrates Sri Lanka that went viral within the short time span since its release and has been viewed over 150,000 times by now. Her sound cloud profile, Music Inc. is crammed with soulful compositions by her.
She was just four years old when her mother took her for her first piano lesson. This turned out to be her introduction to the world of classical music. ABRSM and Trinity College of Music exams paved the way for her later work. While she was studying at Bishops College, she took part in a number of extracurricular activities, non-music related.
“I was on the school swim team from Grade four onwards, I was the President of the Student Christian Society and on the Committee for my school house ‘Henly’,” she shared. Her early work includes, partaking in the All Island Shakespeare Competition twice (2004/2005) at which she was the pianist. “This was a lot of fun because it involved actually composing the music and also being a vital part of the production. In Taming of the Shrew (2004), which we won, I portrayed a shadow of the Shrew. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I was a musical fairy who played the piano and recorder,” she says. She was also in the school choir and went on to be the choir leader. She was also part of the church choir at St. Paul’s Church Milagiriya which she directed for seven years before leaving for Berklee.
“Berklee was the only college I applied to as it had a Major called Contemporary Writing and Production; which I was instantly drawn to. It focused on everything from Arranging, Orchestration and Composition to Music Direction, Production and Sound Engineering.”
She made many achievements at Berklee. She was the Berklee Achievement Scholar and winner of Berklee Achievement Grant, a Student Ambassador, contributing writer for the online student newspaper, The Groove, Company Manager of the Musical Theater Club, an arranger for honorary doctorate recipient Dee Dee Bridgewater’s song ‘Just Family’ and took part in the Division III Cross Country Team for Emerson College that partners with Berklee for sports. “I managed productions and learnt a lot about the technical aspects of theater,” she says referring to her role as the company manager.
Since graduating, she has written a piece for the Chapel Choir of S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia, for the Festival of Nine Lessons (December 2015), directed by Vinodh Senadeera, Vocal writing assistant for Joyce Moreno (singer/songwriter) concert held at Berklee, and currently the Music Director of a musical ‘T: An MBTA Musical’ that will go on the boards during ImprovBoston Theater from February to May 2016. “On the 29th of April 2016, the Chilean Band, Color Violeta will be featured at Berklee alongside the Berklee World String Orchestra, and I have been asked to arrange a few songs for this concert,” she confides. Speaking about her project Berklee Celebrates Sri Lanka, she says, “As a Sri Lankan, if you felt loved, patriotic and proud of our culture and heritage, I feel we may have done justice to what we set out to do through this project.”
She concludes the interview expressing her wholehearted gratitude. “Music is best when shared. If you possess the gift of music, use it wisely, use it with love, and use it for peace. I thank God that I have been blessed with a family who has not only helped me make my dreams come true, but has also taught me that unconditional love, endurance and patience is of utmost importance.
My best friends turned family; Mayanthi, Sunara, Marlon, Mevantha and Adam; thank you for always believing in me and never letting go. Extended family, friends, and fellow Sri Lankans; thank you so much for your love, support and encouragement – your response has humbled me. Views and Shares online are not the most important factor here. What really means the world to me is that our music made Sri Lankans feel proud to be truly Sri Lankan. This is the true essence of what music can do, and I am honoured to be called a Sri Lankan today.”