- 31st January, 2020, at 7. 30 pm at the Lionel Wendt Theatre
This year, people around the world are celebrating the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the world’s most phenomenal composers of classical music. Beethoven has inspired many musicians around the world and his work has successfully travelled centuries ahead, even after his death. The Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka (SOSL) has decided to bring the celebration to Sri Lanka as well, honouring the great musical legend and his incomparable commitment to music. The Chamber Music concert titled “Celebrating Beethoven” will take place on the 31st January, 2020, at 7. 30 pm at the Lionel Wendt Theatre where four musicians will be presenting three well-known chamber works. Piano Sonata no. 30, Op. 109 will be performed by Soundarie David-Rodrigo, Violin Sonata no. 5, Op, 24 (“Spring”) by Nilupul Silva and Soundarie David-Rodrigo, and Clarinet Trio in B-flat, Op. 11 by Soundarie David-Rodrigo, Ajit Abeysekera (clarinet) and Tamara Holsinger (cello).
1 How long have you been performing with the Symphony Orchestra?
It’s been a long time - well over 25 years. It has been a great experience as playing in orchestra teaches you so much more when it comes to classical music and all the major works that have been composed for orchestra.
“We do not have much emphasis for Classical music in this country despite having a lot of talent”
2 What is your view on the place of Classical music at present in Sri Lanka?
Well, there seems to be a lot happening. Many are taking to classical music, choirs and orchestras, but it really is important to look into details when one is attempting large works, and for me personally, there is no end to learning. Just preparing for this concert was a learning experience for me.
Of course, we do not have much emphasis for Classical music in this country despite having a lot of talent, and getting sponsors for a Classical Music Concert, as opposed to say a pop concert, or even sports, is really very hard. So, I do hope that there will be more support for classical music in this country in the future.
3 How has Beethoven’s music influenced you as a musician?
I think I was blessed to have been introduced to some of Beethoven’s larger works for the piano at a very early stage in life. I am one of those who prefer composers of the Romantic Era, and in many ways studying Beethoven’s works, from his early works to the later works, made me understand the transition from the Classical to the Romantic Period better. Also studying about Beethoven as a composer, his life story, the many frustrations and obstacles he encountered in life made his music even more meaningful to me.
1 How long have you been playing the violin and how has it influenced your life?
I took up the violin from the age of 6 and fell in love with it to such an extent that I decided to make a career out of it.
2 What is the importance of celebrating Beethoven’s 250th anniversary?
Beethoven is such an iconic figure in the music industry and is the most frequently performed composer in western classical music. Constantly breaking the norms and stretching musical form, he oversaw the transition of music from classical into the romantics. His is a name that is known worldwide and still regarded as legend after all these years. We, as classical musicians, feel the need to pay homage to this great composer.
“Beethoven is such an iconic figure in the music industry and is the most frequently performed composer in western classical music. Constantly breaking the norms and stretching musical form, he oversaw the transition of music from classical into the romantics”
1 What drew you to music?
Music runs in my family. My great-aunt, Averil Bartholomeusz, who was in the SOSL in its early years was the only cello teacher in the island for a long time, and my mother was the leader of the orchestra’s cello section as well. From the time I was very young, the cello was the only instrument I wanted to play.
2 How has your experience been so far performing with the Orchestra?
I’ve been playing in the SOSL from the time I was about 14 years old. It’s been a part of my life for so long that it has come to signify much more than music—it’s where my friends are. It’s a place where I’ve learned that you’re never done learning when it comes to music, and that’s a humbling yet inspiring lesson.
3 How would you describe Beethoven’s music?
Intense. Emotional. It can leave you in tears and just as quickly make you feel like the sun just came up on a dark landscape.
4 What do you find most interesting about Beethoven?
The way his compositional style kept evolving—starting with works that sound very ‘classical’ to those that verge on the Romantic. That is what’s special about his music—it has a range and depth of expression that is unparalleled. His influence on following generations of composers pushed music to a higher plane altogether.
1 What would you say is the best thing about performing in the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka?
It is difficult to give a straight simple answer to this question. I have been playing in the SOSL for over 50 years now, and it has been one of the most enriching experiences in my life. Playing in an orchestra gives you the opportunity to experience and get “inside” some of the great masterworks of classical music in a manner that no amount of listening to these works can do.
Secondly, and as important, it enables you to bond and communicate with other musicians through the language of music. Music speaks what words cannot communicate.
“The idea was to present a programme that would cover as much as possible the range of expression that Beethoven expressed through his
2 How were the musical pieces chosen for the concert?
The programme arose out of informal discussions. The idea was to present a programme that would cover as much as possible the range of expression that Beethoven expressed through his chamber music. While it is impossible to do this with three pieces, they do represent specifically different modes of expression used by the master. The trio is an early work in the classical style, but contains many of the characteristic Beethoven touches which were developed more fully in his later works.
3 Do you have any message for the classical music lovers of Sri Lanka?
Beethoven is the most universal of composers in the sense that Shakespeare is the most universal of writers. We invite classical music lovers to join us in celebrating the life and work of this great man, by being with us at this concert.