by Rochelle Gunaratna
Paul de Pieris with Three Generations will be held on June 23 at
6.45 pm. Tickets priced at Rs. 750 and Rs. 500 for the show,
followed by a Peduru Party for Rs. 400, are available at Punchi
Theatre in Borella.
The legendary sounds of our very own Vincent De
Paul Peiris of "Siripade Samanala Kanda" fame will reverberate
at the Namel Malini Punchi Theatre in Borella on June 23 at
6.45pm. The legend will be accompanied by his daughter Ilonka,
granddaughter Peshani and great-granddaughter Ayani which is a
record by itself.
and Namel Weeramuni
Manel Weeramuni feels this could be a record for
the Guinness book as this concert would consist of four
generations of singers who belong to the same family. Vincent
who is a product of De LaSalle College and St. Benedictís
College used to sing along with his three brothers at home, and
he first appeared on stage as a teenager singing in all three
languages at a concert which was in aid of the war effort on
15th December 1940 under the distinguished patronage of the
mayor A. E. Gunasinghe. A certain doctor who was aware of
Vincentís singing ability had encouraged him to participate at
the time, thus enabling his career to take flight. He has sung
in the presence of Lord Luis Mountbatten and entertained
soldiers as well. He had also given a solo rendition on the
Hawaiian guitar in the 1940s. He started working at Radio Ceylon
in 1949 and was the only person to host two programmes, western
and oriental. His ability to yodel and sing western classics
well earned him the moniker "The Gay Yodeler".
When, as he said, the management had granted him
the option of hosting either of the programmes due to certain
people being jealous of his success, he had opted out of the
western classical programme and stuck with the oriental
programme. He had felt that with western songs he will always be
imitating someone elseís style but being a Sri Lankan he felt
the need to sing his own songs writing the melodies himself.
Plans to commerate his golden jubilee as a singer in 1990 did
not materialise due to a personal tragedy, bringing his love for
singing to a standstill. This concert will give him the
opportunity to display his talents once again (his first and
last solo concert was in 1940).
He feels indebted to Namel and Malini Weeramuni
for their interest in artists in his ilk, who had contributed
their talents for the betterment of music and arts in the bygone
Singing and and yodelling for my benefit, Iwas
awestruck at his capabilities and found it hard to comprehend
the fact that this jovial man was 84 years old (he does not look
a day over 64 years). He is proud of his troop of seven
children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, who
brighten his life and he attributes his "joie de vivre" to a
free mind and unmalicious spirit. Malini Weeramuni says that
this gentleman has a very grand heart and that could be the
secret behind his smile.
The Namel Malini Punchi theatre which was
established four years ago is the brainchild of Namel and Malini
Weeramuni who are no strangers to the world of perfoming arts.
"It had been a dream of Namelís to own a theatre
company some day and it took 47 years to make it come true,"
says his supportive and determined wife Malini, a very
kind and gentle lady with nerves of steel. It was her idea to do
something for the "old singers" of Sri Lanka who are not given
prominence any more, thus paving the way for the first concert
featuring Ivor Dennis, followed by a concert featuring
Christopher Paul, Narada Disasekera and Vivian Boralessa.
Although their greatest cause for concern was the budgeted cost
which came to a grand total it did not hamper the shows. This
gave her the impetus to continue despite the many hurdles she
would face along the way.
"Money cannot buy happiness. It is through such
deeds of kindness that we can attain a high level of happiness.
The pleasure you get when you see the joy on these artistsí
faces is immeasurable," says Malini. It was her acquaintance
with Ivor Dennis that enabled her to meet Vincent who is the
artist at the third concert. Namel and Malini who have
contributed immensely to the field of performing arts, will be
given the award for "Lifetime Achievement" by Sarvodaya.