By Keshara Hallock From the Sunday Times Newspaper
“Let all the world in every corner sing”, the sound of the S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia choir soars high into the rafters of The Chapel of the Transfiguration.
This chapel is at the core of Thomian life. In the words of the College Warden Professor Indra De Soysa, “The chapel is a centrepiece for the school which was in fact built around
it.” It will be the location for STC’s much anticipated Festival of Choral Music, a collaboration of the chapel choir with Old Thomians and celebrated professional musicians the De Lanerolle Brothers-Rohan and Isha
n, on Sunday September 16, at 6 p.m. The concert is a fund raising initiative marking the inauguration of “The Canon Roy Yin Choir Fund”. The fund was launched primarily to provide the necessary funds for the Chapel Choir to take their music to more distant shores.
The Choir along with the De Lanerolle Brothers getting ready for the Festival of Choral Music
The Thomian choir, established in 1854 and unique in that it sings without a conductor, has been directed by a number of esteemed musicians amongst them of course Canon Roy Yin, as well as the late Revd Lucian G. B. Fernando and Russel Bartholomeusz. Under the leadership of these men, the choir has gained a reputation for choral excellence. Most recently, the choir is trained by Vinodh Senadheera, who himself studied under Mr. Bartholomeusz. For Mr. Senadheera, “the main objective of the choral festival is to hopefully enable us to go overseas with the De Lanerolle brothers. We have a choir of about 40, so a trip would require funding. It is good for the choristers to see other choirs and to hear them sing. For me, I would love the boys to see choirs such as those of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster and of Kings College Cambridge. It would be nice to watch their discipline- the way they sing and conduct themselves.”
It is hoped that the first College Choir tour will be to Singapore next year, a significant choice of destination as this is where the late Revd Canon Roy Lin spent his final years, before his death in 2010. The College is indebted to Yin as the director who introduced the now well established and much loved Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols during Advent which is based on the annual service at Kings College, Cambridge where he served as a Chaplain.
The involvement of the De Lanerolle brothers is something that makes both the September service and future choir tours particularly exciting for the College Choir and the Warden duly notes that St. Thomas’ “is very grateful to the brothers and fortunate to have them as ambassadors around the world.” However, for the brothers themselves, the opportunity seems equally important. Rohan adds, “The choir has been in existence for such a long time and when we were performing in Germany, we began to think how nice it would be to get them to sing abroad.” Ishan adds, “It is always a pleasure to do something for STC where the Chapel stands tall as a focal point.
“The Festival will include well known Anthems and Hymns as well as a selection of readings from the Holy Scriptures. Mr. Senadheera comments, “I have always wanted to do something like this. We always begin a service by singing hymns, this is where the boys learn hymns and when they leave they remain close to the boys’ hearts. Thus, the service will include well loved Thomian hymns. It should be a very solemn and moving service where we can bring out the spiritual context of the hymns in the programme.”
Entrance to the service will be by programme priced at Rs. 750 which will be available at Commons Cafe, Park Street Mews and the STCML OBA Secretariat, Mount Lavinia.