Colombo Symphony Orchestra
Before I got involved in education too, my work consisted of ensuring positive publicity for the work of the Council in general, while also promoting literature and art and film and music. I set myself a target of about half a dozen programmes a month in the Hall, together with something larger about once a quarter. Fortunately Rex was quite happy to let me work on Sri Lankan efforts too, so I generally managed to ensure a regular flow of activity.
This was made easier by the fact that London had a library of films, from which we could borrow one each month, for several screenings, in addition to a set for a festival each year. I had a judicious mix of culture and entertainment, old favourites
Trinity College Choir
and contemporary productions. Then there were lectures and readings, the occasional art exhibition, and a few concerts. We got down British musicians about twice a year, for performances in the Hall as well as in larger concerts outside, usually in collaboration with the Symphony Orchestra. I was also able to showcase local talent such as the Trinity College Choir, and Prashanthi Navaratnam, after her initial training in London.
We developed an excellent collaboration with the Symphony Orchestra, chaired in those days by the redoubtable Peace Samarasekera and conducted almost always by Earle de Fonseka. He was utterly charming, and a highlight of all performances was the dinner he hosted at his house for the entire orchestra, plus anyone he thought had helped. We also did some work with local musicians, initially because a delightful man called Sivasambu ran what he called the Bloomsbury Group in London, which had an annual festival for which he asked the Council to sponsor an artist from Sri Lanka. We sent both Amaradeva and Piyasara Shilpadhipathi, on one occasion together. I knew the work of the former of course, but I was privileged to discover the latter’s excellence as a drummer. Continue reading