Timeless Classics: A Concert Bridging Lanka

Lorraine Fernando

On Sunday 12 March 2017 a group of us decided to attend a concert at the Besan Centre in Melbourne comprising artistes who had arrived from Sri Lanka. I had been told that Soundarie and Shey were Sri Lankans with a great deal of talent, but apart from knowing this fact, I had absolutely no expectation of what the night would be like. I’ve lived in Melbourne Australia for 43 years and thus, do not know very much about the concert scene in Sri Lanka. As we approached the Concert Hall on an almost perfect Melbourne Autumn evening, it was great to see a most colourful crowd of ladies in beautiful saris or smart casual evening attire and gentlemen dressed to suit the occasion. The concert commenced on time and little did we know, what an extravaganza was in store for all of us, in the hours that followed.

The ConChord Choir who comprise of a group of singers from Melbourne harmoniously performed the opening stanza which set a high standard for the evening. Shey and Soundarie followed and performed brilliantly.  They were supported by Pradeep Rodrigo playing guitar and Christo Prins on drums.  Shey commenced her performance, with the very pertinent and popular song, ‘There’s no business, like show business’  Shey went on to perform many Broadway classics which were crowd favourites.

Soundarie, then performed her own composition of ‘Wild & Free’ against a backdrop of spectacular Sri Lankan scenery. This was certainly a ‘show stopper’ as it created so much drama and the crowd went ‘wild’ too.  Shey concluded the first part of the concert with the famous Aria – Nesum Dorma which was enjoyed by all.

After the intermission, Shey and Soundarie again demonstrated their talents by singing in English, Sinhalese and Tamil.  It was however, Shey’s Gospel Medley that got her a standing ovation. The songs chosen for this medley were spot-on and delivered superbly.

A young multi-talented and very personable lad, Rushan Hewawasam was conductor, MC and also performed on piano when Shey sang a couple of songs in Tamil and Sinhalese.

As an audience member, I gathered from the brief speeches made, that this event was driven by Nihal De Run, CEO of Project BEAP. May I take this opportunity of thanking him for his vision and willingness to take on the responsibility of running this event.  Nihal was assisted by his deputy Jerome Adams and a team of volunteers, including Nel Cooray who was in charge of the Sound and Lighting and did a splendid job. The sound and lighting was amazing and this added to the spectacle that was taking place on the stage. Jerome and the very able team helping Nihal obviously worked tirelessly to ensure the entire evening flowed seamlessly.

Dr David Young who provides selfless support to this organisation is an amazing gentleman who cannot be thanked adequately. Former Victorian Governor, Professor David De Kretser who is currently Patron of both the Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka and the ConChord Choir together with his wife played a meaningful role during the evening, presenting the artistes with ‘Thank You’ gifts. Last but not least, the generous sponsors who ensured Timeless Classics success were also present on the night and we applaud their support of this event and Project BEAP.

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner who attended the evening as a private citizen gave a great speech on the merits of generosity to our fellow human beings in Sri Lanka and Project BEAP. The message was delivered succinctly but in a very powerful manner.  I have to say how very privileged we felt to be at a concert with home grown Sri Lankan talent performing to a world standard. Our lives are richer for the experience.

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