The JSO experience, the orchestra of the future


by Mary Fitzpatrick

On Wednesday the 2nd of November the Junior Symphony Orchestra gave a concert. It was the culmination of eight months of faithful practise, and it was marvellous! The programme they chose was quite challenging and they rose admirably to do it justice. Mr. Ananda Dabare has created a pleasing and joyful sound with his young orchestra and it was quite clear they had all worked very hard to give us an enjoyable evening.

The first piece was Gordon Jacob’s Overture for Strings. This modern composer liked to be thought of as a traditionalist, but this piece definitely has a 20th century sound. The young musicians carried it off with great aplomb, a fairly difficult piece to play, but boldly and enthusiastically done.

Francois-Adrien Boieldieu’s Calif of Bagdad came next, a rousing piece that was a delight to listen to, played energetically and with all the verve that could have captured the audiences long ago in the opéra-comique.

Then with Carl Maria Von Weber’s Invitation to the Waltz, the JSO swept us away across an orchestral dance floor, I’m still humming that piece today, - it was beautifully played.

After the interval it was Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, an emotional piece of music in four movements that the JSO put their hearts into, and they gave a stirring performance. Mozart started his career at a young age too…………………

The JSO was created to guide and shape the talents of young musicians, so that they could progress into the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka.  Maestro Ananda Dabare has taken on this responsible task of training them, and carries it out with intelligent leadership, challenging the young players with pieces that stretch their skills and abilities, and encouraging them to do their best in the spirit that unites them all - their love and joy for music.  Since their inaugural concert these young people, between the ages of 12 and 25 years, have continued to extend and fine-tune their musical abilities under his expert guidance.  For some of the youngsters it was their first experience of playing in an orchestra, others have already graduated to performing with the SOSL, and this mix of experience meant that everyone learned something.   

The members of the JSO are an enthusiastic group, and really enjoy making music together.  Below are a few of their comments.

The youngest member of the orchestra, Kavishka Paranavitana is 12 years old from Royal College, Colombo, "It’s a fantastic experience to play with a lot of instruments and co-operate with others to make good music, and it’s a great pleasure to work with a conductor like Mr. Ananda Dabare."

Prashan Bastiansz, joined the orchestra three months ago, is 13 years old and plays the trumpet.  "I never thought I would be able to play for a JSO concert within three months! Thanks to Mr. Ananda Dabare’s effort and commitment, I will be performing on stage for this concert. I am privileged, proud, honoured and fortunate to perform for the JSO and I will cherish this moment with pride throughout my life."

For Vidurinda Samaraweera, a 14-year old French Horn player from St. Thomas’s, this will be his first experience of playing in the JSO, "It is really a great pleasure to play in the JSO and I feel very happy and proud when playing with my friends in a well-recognised musical combination. The young musicians are very lucky to have the JSO and every one of them can get knowledge of music from the professional musicians and conductors and gain a remarkable experience while enjoying music. All can improve as orchestral players. I think it is a great chance for all of us."

Katie Renker, a 14-year old flautist from Elizabeth Moir School, Colombo, says "Being in the JSO is an amazing experience.  Not only is it a great opportunity to learn and develop through ensemble playing, but it is also incredibly enjoyable.  I feel very lucky to be part of it, and Mr. Dabare’s guidance has been invaluable."

A young musician who has already graduated to playing in the SOSL, Sachiththa Fernando, is 17-years old, from Ananda College, and proudly plays first violin and first desk in the JSO.  He says, "I have been a member of the JSO since its establishment.  I participate in all scheduled practices with great pleasure and commitment.  I feel that it has always been a support for my music career."

Music can powerfully affect our bodies and minds, and Classical music still has a lot to offer in its richness, beauty and deep appeal to the emotions.

The Royal Norwegian Embassy, sponsored the concert as part of their programme, to enhance and develop musical skills through exposure and the exchange of experience, and to make high quality music accessible to all people.

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.

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