Contempo presents ‘Viva la Diva’!

Saturday, 18 May 2013 00:55 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Shimmering costumes, feather boas, glitter and power-packed vocal arrangements are tipped to rock Colombo, when female choral group Contempo takes the stage next month.

Formed by past pupils of St. Bridget’s Convent Colombo 7, Contempo will toast internationally acclaimed female artistes, with their own rendition of arrangements on 7-8 June.

The concert, which takes place at the Russian Cultural Centre in Colombo, will see a line-up of 22 choristers pay tribute to some legendary stars who have captured their hearts over the years.

“‘Viva la Diva’ is our attempt to pay tribute to the ‘divas’ we’ve grown up listening to, keeping to the musical traditions that our school engraved in all of us,” said Nadine Corera and Nadeeka Perera, Contempo’s Co-Directresses.

Contempo’s musical direction is guided by versatile and accomplished musician Eshantha Peiris. An alumnus of New York University, Eshantha is largely credited with dreaming up unusual arrangements with subtle harmonies and rhythms.

“The theme of divas was a unanimous choice,” said Dilini Perera, a versatile Contempo member who shares the musical direction with Eshantha for this concert.”I think it’s because all of us have a little bit of a diva inside, from the quietest to the boldest of us,” said Dilini, who is also an award winning soloist and vocal trainer.

‘Diva’ used to be a word reserved for female opera stars, but singers from the pop industry have captured the public imagination over the last 50 years, explains Eshantha. “‘Diva’ has come to refer to celebrity women who personify vocal talent, attitude and empowerment in today’s pop culture,” says Eshantha.

“This is a great way to showcase all the wonderful things about powerful and iconic female artistes that we have come to know, idolise and emulate since our youngest years,” says Dilini, whose training styles and musical interpretations have stretched the choristers’ vocal chords and imagination these past months.

‘Viva la Diva’ showcases the highlights of pop music over the last half-century, as sung by the popular female artistes of each decade. With music ranging from doo-wop to dance-floor electronica, featuring songs by artistes such as Dianna Ross, Madonna and Lady Gaga, ‘Viva la Diva’ promises a toe-tapping evening with something for everyone in the audience.

“I’m sure each chorister has a song they love in this repertoire and it has been a joy and a challenge to learn and love songs that are new and yet lay the soundtrack to our lives. We really hope the audience will love in indulging in some diva behaviour as much as we have,” said Dilini.

Presently, Contempo is made up of a group of eclectic people who have just left school to members forging careers in fields ranging from teaching, arts, fashion, finance, business to marketing and law. They are all bound by common enthusiasm to continue their musical careers started in school.

“We are proud to have some of our founder members joining us on stage this time, along with a new bunch of babes, fresh out of the school gates,” Nadine and Nadeeka said.

For this show, Contempo is joined by the Old Joes Choir, which comprises alumni of St. Joseph’s College Colombo 10. Being their brother school, Contempo has joined the Old Joes Choir to lend their voice on many occasions.

The choir will be backed by a trio of talented musicians: Louis Perera (piano), Sumudu Suraweera (drums) and Isaac Smith (double bass).

Formed in 2001, Contempo repertoire includes soulful spirituals, jazz, ethnic Sri Lankan music, semi-classics, pop and rock. As the name of the choir suggests, the group enjoys infusing a contemporary twist, to original songs that surprises and delights audience with unusual arrangements ranging from four to six-part harmonies.

Contempo has been part of several memorable productions such as the Old Joes’ ‘Evolution’ in 2004, ‘Renaissance I’ and ‘Renaissance II’ by the Saints in 2006 and 2007 and ‘Inspired’ by Natalie Gooneratne in 2008. In collaboration with Choro Benedicte, Contempo jointly organised a choral recital ‘September’ in 2009. In 2010, Contempo was featured in Old Joes Choir production ‘Ämore’.

They have also been featured with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka’s memorable Christmas Concert in 2009 conducted by Eshantha Peiris.

In January, Contempo took part in their first professional competition and was placed first runner-up at the Institute of Western Music and Speech annual choral festival.

Tickets for the show are priced at Rs. 800 and available at Park Street Mews, Colombo 2. The Daily FT, The Sunday Times and Daily Mirror are the Print Sponsors.

Pix by Lasantha Kumara