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The Colombo Philharmonic Choir celebrates 60 years of singing


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The Colombo Philharmonic Choir, one of the oldest performing choral groups in the country, will present performances of classical choral music in Colombo and Galle later this month in celebration of its Diamond Jubilee. 

The 60th Anniversary Concerts, generously sponsored by the German Embassy, will take place in Colombo on Friday, 29 May at 7:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Scots Kirk, Galle Road, Colombo 3 and in Galle on Saturday, 30 May at 6:30 p.m. at the historic Dutch Reformed Church, Galle Fort. 

The concert program will comprise of choral sacred music and preludes for organ by the composers Pachalbel, J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rutter and others. Entrance will be by program priced at Rs. 500 each, available at the door. 

The renowned soprano Anagi Perera, will be featured in Mozart’s Laudate Dominum and Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer and at the organ will be Denham Pereira, organist and Director of Music at St. Andrew’s Scots Kirk. The Colombo Philharmonic Choir will be under the direction of its present conductor, Manilal Weerakoon. 

While the two works by Mozart and Mendelssohn are known for their charming lyricism, Haydn’s Te Deum Laudamus combines his consummate classical simplicity with influences of Handel’s great choral works to produce a vocally demanding, yet exuberant composition. Brahms’ How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings is an exceptional chorus in terms of bold harmonic writing, from his greatest vocal work, the German Requiem. 

One of the highlights of the program will be The Lord’s Prayer written by the well-known Sri Lankan tenor, Asitha Tennekoon. This work spans the full range of the vocal compass and displays a musical maturity well beyond the young composer’s years. The program will end with Walmisley’s Magnificat in D minor, an outstanding example of English cathedral music.

The Colombo Philharmonic Choir was formally established in August 1955 by a group of enthusiasts led by Dr. Gerald Cooray. One of the chief objectives of its founding-members was to sustain the live performance of good choral music for the enjoyment and appreciation of listeners and performers alike. It is through its loyalty and commitment to the music that the choir continues to maintain this mission despite growing constraints in upholding artistic values in the present times. 

Sir Ralph Vaughan Williams was an early patron of the choir while a concert in 1956 featured the celebrated tenor Peter Pears with Benjamin Britten at the piano. Others who have directed performances by the choir were Paul Jayarajan, Raymond Adlam and Kalashuri Lyle Godridge. The choir also had a brief but very fruitful period under the baton of one of its former members, soloists and Past Presidents, Maryanne David. 

Two individuals of distinction however, were its founder Dr. Cooray and Lyle Godridge, under whose able guidance the activities of the choir flourished for a period totaling nearly 40 years. Having reached another significant milestone in its long history, the choir looks confidently to the future in finding richness and fulfillment in singing the inspiring music of the masters. 


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