Saturday night was the time, and the Cathedral of Christ was the venue, so as you already guessed, this post is not about a party. Verdi Requiem was performed by the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka along with a chorus and four solo voices at the Cathedral and it was not something that was to be missed.
We thought we were being smart by going there half an hour early thinking that the rest of the crowd will be following SLST (Sri Lanka Standard Time. Take your local time and subtract half an hour from it), but boy were we wrong. There was no parking space remaining around the church with every available spot taken by vehicles. There was no parking space for our behinds inside the church either. It was packed. Even the steps and any elevated portion of the floor was taken by music hungry citizens. It was amazing, a venue filled to bursting half an hour before a show in Colombo. I didn’t know people could be so early. The not-so-nice lady at the door even refused to sell us the programme booklets. It was practically a Who’s-Who of Colombo that day. And frankly, there were people there who didn’t give an F# for classical music but turned up anyway just to be seen. Despite the crowd, we managed to park our behinds on a ledge and await the performance.
It was entrancing.
The Orchestra was brilliant, the chorus had depth, the soloists had character and the conductor was masterful. There was sweat dripping down our backs, we couldn’t even see the Orchestra properly, but we listened, and we were swept away. It was glorious. The programme was a little over one and a half hours, but the time flew. The musicians blossomed under Gregory Rose’s touch, and the soloists were impressive. In my opinion, the tenor was the best of the four with the soprano following. He was like a “breath of fresh air”.
I didn’t quite like the choice of venue for the performance. It was hot and cramped. The side screens were too low. The soloists were sweating profusely under their makeup and the acoustics could have been better. I would have gladly paid for a chance to see the performance, and not have the heat interfere with my enjoyment.
I have enjoyed the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka before, but there was nothing of this caliber. This was THE best musical experience I have had in Sri Lanka. Ever.