Galle Music Festival comes alive in March
By Kshanika Argent
After drawing audiences of over 13,000 at the Jaffna Music Festival (March, 2011), the concerts and music workshops that allow a passing on of folk and traditional repertoire, skills and knowledge is set to continue across the island with a ‘sister’ festival, The Galle Music Festival – a two-day event organised by the Sewalanka Foundation, Aru Sri Theatre in collaboration with Concerts Norway and is funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the United Sates Agency for International Development (USAID).
Artists from Bangaldesh, India, Norway and Palestine will join a local line up of dancers, musicians, performers and ritualists of the likes of Sanni Yakuma from Paravahera, Kolam from Mirissa, Rookada from Ambalangoda, Sampradaika Jana Gee from Alawwa, Kaffer Manja from Sirambi Adiya, Kali Kambatam from Akkaraipattu, Vasanthan Koothu from Kaduuwan, Kovalan Koothu from Mullaitivu, Vaasappu from Mannar, Adivasi from Dambana, Sangeeth Bhawana from Galle, Evolution, the choir of the University of Visual and Performing Arts, Centegratz and B&S with Ashanthi, Umara, Umaraiya and Randheer.
According to the organisers, the key focus of the festival is to keep folk and traditional forms of music and dance alive by providing a positive environment and platform from which local and international artists can exchange not only with each other, but with their audience.
Sewalanka Foundation Program Director Kaushalya Navaratne stated that the Rs. 21 million event is part of a “larger non profit music cooperation program that has been established with the objective of stimulating musical performing arts in Sri Lanka by providing for exchange while preserving the traditional Sri Lankan musical expressions.” Navaratne added that the organisers are committed to continuing the festival annually over the next five years and that interest has been shown in taking the festival to Kandy.
Meanwhile, representatives from Royal Norwegian Embassy and USAID stressed the importance of festivals such as this being a key tool for reconciliation for a nation recovering from a three decade war.
USAID Mission Director James F. Bednar stated that free festivals such as The Galle Music Festival “bring people together” and are very important projects that promote reconciliation. Over the 50 years the organisation has been present in the country it has spent US$ 2 billion to date on such projects.
Bednar’s comments supported Ambassador for the Royal Norwegian Embassy Hilde Haraldstad, who said that the festival hopes to create a positive meeting place for the country’s youth, and a place where they can “rediscover and open themselves” to traditional and folk forms of music and dance.
Ambassador Haraldstad claimed that it would be a “positive opportunity” for artists and audiences to mingle, exchange and learn from each other.
The festival will also feature morning workshops which will feature among other things, sound engineering experts, specially flown in for the event.