Rohan: The artiste risen to crescendo

Posted on June 27, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Rohan De Silva

MUSIC: "I’m excited and nervous. I can hear the sound of inhaling and exhaling inside me. Adrenalin flow is high. But soon I become relaxed and feel good because I’m in the midst of my dear friends, family and my own people. Air, voices, everything around me are familiar.

After all it’s my home", Rohan De Silva, the internationally acclaimed piano artiste who has conquered the seven seas with his musical brilliancy disclosed his true feelings when he plays his breath taking melodies before the Sri Lankan audience.

The unassuming music persona, still in his 40s says he does not get so much excited and nervous even when he performs at the world famous Carnegie Hall or at the Lincoln Centre in New York thronged with 3000 to 5000 classical music aficionados.

When I met him he was just after his performance to raise funds for the Sunera Foundation which brought the Cinnamon Grand to a house full.

De Silva has collaborated with many music maestros like Itzhak Perlman, Gill Shaham, Joshua Bell, Cho-Liang Lin, Vidim Repin, Benny Kim, Kyoko Takesawa, Julin Rachlin and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg across Europe, Asia and Latin America.

He has spellbound hundreds of thousands of people in most renowned classical music abodes such as the grand Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Centre, Kennedy Centre, Philadelphia Academy of Music, Ambassador Theatre in Los Angeles, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and Tel-Aviv in Israel. "As a collaborator when I play with these legendary musicians, it’s a colourful exercise.

The music is merged and we build up a musical dialogue on the stage. The feeling is wonderful. The collaboration of all ideas are melodiously released as if we are weaving a bright and colourful silk scarf or crafting a curvy earthen pot", he described his feelings when he is in performance.

When it reaches the climax, the mind goes through a range of vivid colours like red and orange. I think those are the colours of supreme ecstasy, he added.

De Silva has won many awards and medals and performed at many distinguished occasions. He was awarded a special prize at The Best Accompanist at the Ninth International Tchaikovsky Competition, Moscow in 1990 and the Samuel Sanders Collaborative Artiste Award at the Classical Recording Foundation Awards Ceremony at the Carnegie Hall. "My first and foremost achievement was the admission to the Studio of late legendary violinist Dorothy DeLay", he recalls humbly.

"One of the most significant recitals I performed was in Brazil where President Lula De Silva was present and I played in Tokyo recently before Sovereign Naruhito and Princess Masako. But every performance is significant even if I play the same composition" De Silva says.

He has performed at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. He has a great admiration towards Romantic composers. "Their colours of music are very vibrant. But all composers have great writing and great qualities in their music. I adore Beethoven and Bach very much", he says.

He has a deep regret that the people of his own country do not appreciate their own artistes. "They admire anything alien and foreign but not the home grown. I think still their minds are colonised even after fifty years of Independence," he says.

He was awarded the Immigrant Achievement Award presented by the New York and Washington Lawyers’ in recognition of his exceptional commitment to the Arts in America. "America is a great nation. They accept and honour your talents and abilities. It is not seen in Sri Lanka and it’s a real drawback to the pursuit of art," he says.

Sri Lanka has a lot of talent and potential but no adequate resources to get into the professional level, De Silva thinks. "In the Classical music field there are no many qualified teachers. Many have barely passed their exams and made the profession a business. There is no dedication for the art", he says with a deep regret.

His mother Primrose De Silva was a highly respected piano teacher. He was born and brought up in a music background. He had a great interest for the art since he was three. So his parents sent him to Mary Bilimoria whom he calls "one of the greatest and dedicated teachers" to learn the violin. "I think the parents’ role is very important in the success of a child", De Silva recalls.

When he was studying at Isipathana College his great musical talents won him a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London even before he was sixteen. Then he received many awards and scholarships including the Grover Bennett Scholarship, the Christian Carpenter Prize, the Harold Craxton Award and the Chappell Gold Medal for the Best Overall Performance at the Royal Academy and many more.

He was the first student to win a special scholarship in the arts from President J.R Jayewardene from the President’s Fund to the prestigious Julliard School in New York. There he obtained Bachelor and Master of Music degrees.

"I have a dream. One day, I want to set up a professional academy for Classical music in Sri Lanka", De Silva spoke of his expectations. "I want to hold one week classical music festival with international artistes. Many Asian countries like Japan, Singapore, Korea and even India have had such festivals. So I want Sri Lanka also on the list and I will do my best to achieve that," he says with great excitement in his voice.

"In art or anything, it is very important to love what you do and to have absolute passion for that," De Silva said. His passion for music has elevated him to the crescendo of his musical scale -ANCL By Suharshi Perera

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Posted on June 27, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |
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