St.Anthony's College, Kandy

Sensational Antonian Choir was in Town this week with the Joy of Christmas

by Steve A. Morrell

Refered from Feature Article on The Island online - http://www.island.lk/2009/12/25/features4.html

‘Antiphon 3. Come, desire of the nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind; bid every strife and quarrel cease and fill the world with heaven’s peace’

Sensational was apt to describe these young voices from St. Anthony’s College Kandy,. They delivered an unblemished repertoire of carols and Christmas music at the Sacred Heart Church in Rajagiriya this week.

‘Sensational’ is not a loosely used term but one ingrained in deep meaning considering the strife of our times.

The Choir from St.Anthony’s comprised Muslims. Buddhists, ( one Hindu, who left College earlier) twenty including five voices of Buddhist and Muslim, and twenty five Catholic. Fifty of them in all, of multi-ethnic, and multi-religious origins, all came together to bring the message of Christmas to an appreciative audience .

Rev. Fr. Araliya Jayasundera OSB ( Order of the Sylstro Benedictines rooted in their Monasteries in Rome and schooled in Gregorian Chant) was in charge of the Choir, said forming the choir and singing religious music had total support of parents of these students. We met one of them who also accompanied the choristers, a Buddhist. And whenever they practiced or sang in public, in Kandy or else where they were well received and the students themselves brought to bear ethnic and religious unity in their performances.

The Choir was conducted by a young student, accompanied on key board also by a talented young student. Soloists, two Buddhists, and one Muslim, rendered polished performances of Christmas music, quite like nothing we heard in the past. To use the term ‘unique’, would be no exaggeration, because they were unique in their composition and demeanor.

Fr. Jayasundera is an Old boy of Trinity College Kandy. This incensed further sensation that a Trinitian had become a Catholic priest, and joined the strict Monastic order of the OSBs, and became a leading educationist teaching in their rival school St. Anthony’s College Kandy. (SACK). As Fr.Araliya said, unification of two great schools steeped in tradition and ethnic harmony. Over the years there have been other old Trinitians who took Holy Orders in the Catholic Church and did well as men of the Cloth.

The performance opened with a haunting rendition of Christe Redemptor, immediately demanding riveted attention of the audience. From those opening bars, the conductor took us through a fine display of an aural feast of disciplined harmony nearing perfection. So much so that a Church and its demur atmosphere of silence, was a few moments transformed to a Concert Hall; an appreciative audience burst into spontaneous peals of applause. These young voices, their Conductor, keyboardist, and their Director Fr. Araliya, deserved all that and more.

Collection of Christmas music included ‘O Little town of Bethlehem, the celebrated Coventry carol, Adeste Fideles, and a special version of O Holy night, with three soloists., Also the calypso Carol, and the Gregorian ‘Happy Christmas’.

All in all about one hour thirty minutes of seasonal music which ended too soon.

To all old Antonians living in Colombo and its suburbs, not present at this performance, all we could say is ‘You missed an outstanding performance. You will regret not being part of the audience’.