Requiem at Trinity College Chapel with Errol Fernando

I  was introduced to a mild mannered visitor to the Chapel by a school officer when I came in for choir practices today. I was told his surname and that he is an old boy. The visitor started by saying If I were offered a ticket to go to a place that I loved, it would not be any other place in the world but the Trinity College Chapel. 

He soon go on talking about the choir and went on to describe the carol service in his days. Then he asked “Do the boys know ‘Where River Lake and Mountain Meet’, and would they sing it if I played it for them?” In reply I asked another question: “May I know your first name sir”?

Mr Erol Fernando with the College Choirmaster

The Schiedmayer & Soehne, Stuttgart piano at the Trinity College Chapel (known to have been given by Lord Mountbatten) was played once again today by none other than Mr Errol Fernando after 60 years, while the Choir sang “Where River Lake and Mountain Meet”.

It was a singular and unexpected delight for all of us as Mr Fernando spoke about how he came to be the accompanist of the Trinity College Choir. “It all started when Mr. Gordon Burrows sprained his ankle one day and could not come” he recalled. “The keyboard was bathed with my sweating fingers as I played for the first time and thought ‘never again’ at the end of it, and returned the book with shaky hands to Mr. Burrows”.

But we all know that the rest of the story is different. Errol Fernando’s 80 year old fingers were light and nimble as he continued to play “Through All the Changing Scenes of Life” and “Once in Royal David’s City” while the Choir sang.

Had Mr Fernando been present at the Founder’s Day Service earlier in the morning, it would have been a rare privilege to have him accompany us. Nevertheless, our joy was complete. Close to 100 young Trinitians (the Choristers and the novices who are being evaluated) listened wide eyed as he described his Choir days, showed the place he sat in the Choir, and told about the people at Trinity during his era.

It was also a meeting of two eras as Mr Fernando, who is recorded as the first “accompanist” (with a separate choirmaster) from whom Mr Barnabas Alexander took over, met the present accompanist Mrs Sadhana Madasekera who took over from Mr Alexander.

It was such an enriching 45 minutes that ended as he bid goodbye, saying to the boys “I wish I could take you all back to Melbourne with me”.

– LT …..

In the video below is Mr Errol Fernando playing the piano while the choir sings, “Where River Lake and Mountain Meet”.


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8 responses to “Requiem at Trinity College Chapel with Errol Fernando

    Thank you very much Prof. Roberts. The video is especially meaningful to me as Trinity was the school where I had the better part of my schooling, and the hymn brings back very fond memories.
    Btw, as you may be already aware, the Mr. Barnabus Alexander referred to in the write up was totally blind and a superlative pianist.
    Best Regards,

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  3. Nissanka Warakaulle

    Great to see my batch mate at Peradeniya, Errol playing at the Trinity chapel after over 60 years. Thank you Michael for sharing

  4. Sunil Gamage

    Mr Errol Fernando opened bowling for Trinity in early 1960s

  5. AN EMAIL NOTE from ERROL FERNANDO in late October 2021:
    “I see that you have included the link to my joyous experience in 2019 accompanying the school choir in the chapel singing ‘Where river, lake and mountain meet’. Known as the College Hymn,the words were composed by Vice Principal Rev W.S. Senior. Trinity College Kandy is indeed located, with a slight stretch of the imagination, where river, lake and mountain meet!’”

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