Music cuts through all barriers and boundaries, helping people to connect and immerse themselves in multiple cultures and experiences. The Music Cooperation between Sri Lanka and Norway embraced this sentiment and in 2009 established a successful annual Music Festival which alternates between the Sri Lankan cities of Jaffna and Galle. The Galle Music Festival 2016 is the seventh and latest iteration of the Music Festival, held on May 14 at the Galle Fort.

The Royal Norwegian Embassy supports the music festivals as an activity that is part of this ongoing Music Cooperation, of which a series of activities have taken place under the Music Cooperation over the past years. Sevalanka Foundation is implementing the activities under the Music Cooperation in partnership with Concerts Norway
The Music Cooperation holds these music festivals to foster ethnic harmony through cultural interventions. The festivals offer a platform for artists and audiences from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds to connect through the medium of music.

This year the Galle Music Festival provides a place for artistes to meet each other, enjoy the traditions and performances of their counterparts and celebrate the similarities and differences in their musical traditions. It also provided a rich and enjoyable experience for audiences who came together from all walks of life from the North, South, East, West, and Central parts of Sri Lanka.

“These festivals provide Sri Lanka’s diverse community artistes with the opportunity to showcase and celebrate their unique art forms on a national stage. What’s more, the festivals are interactive spaces and it is always wonderful to see our artists and audiences connecting and learning from each other. This year in Galle, we are particularly excited by our series of artist collaborations that will offer our audiences some innovative music fusions,” says Festival Director Kaushalya Navaratne.

Speaking about their experience at this type of music festival, Kilinochchi based all-female drumming group Thappu said, “Performing at the Jaffna Music Festival among international and Sri Lankan artistes was an unforgettable experience. After our performance at the Jaffna Music Festival, we realized that we can use this drum to help in our community’s healing process. We learned that we can change the hearts of the people through this instrument. We are excited to be part of the Galle Music Festival and share our music and experience with an entire new audience and fellow artists.”

This year’s exciting lineup featured local artistes: Sufi (The Islamic Social Heritage Cultural Association) – Akkaripattu; Puli Kooththu – Batticaloa; Karagam – Mullaitivu; Thappu Drummers (Kaveri Kala Manram) – Kilinochchi; Kolam – Ambalangoda; and Colombo Drummers (Sandasi Drum and Dance Academy) – Colombo.

Collaborative performances: Urban Rappers: OJ Da – Nuwara Eliya, Pamuditha Anjana – Dematagoda, Krema Diaz – Galle, and Imaad Majeed – Colombo; University Students Collaboration (University of Peradeniya, Eastern University and University of Jaffna); Music Matters and Eastern University Collaboration; and Soul Sounds, Colombo Drummers and Thappu drumming collaboration.

International artiste: Raghu Dixit, a folk fusion group from India.
The morning programme was held at Court Square in Galle Fort. It was presented in collaboration with the Galle Good Market and will feature Sri Lanka’s creative heritage of music, art, and cuisine. The evening programme took place at Samanala Grounds, Galle Fort and featured a memorable array of Sri Lankan and International musicians showcasing the vibrant folk and contemporary music of Sri Lanka and beyond.

The Colombo Concert of the Galle Music Festival was held at the Western Province Aesthetic Resort, Colombo 7 on May 15. The artistes, Raghu Dixit Project from India performed a 90-minute set at the concert.

All profits made through the Colombo Concert of the Galle Music Festival will go towards the Small Grants component of the Music Cooperation activities in 2016. The Small Grants are offered on a competitive basis to musicians who would conduct musical programs at the grassroots level in schools, with youth, women or other key target groups, with these activities feeding into subsequent Music Festival programmes.

(Pics by Aruna Udaya Alwis)
(Pics by Aruna Udaya Alwis)