Praiseworthy ensemble | Sunday Observer
Celebrating the sensitive creativity

Praiseworthy ensemble

21 May, 2023
The literature review takes on a theatrical portrayal during the event while Professors Sunanda Mahendra and Sunil Ariyaratne engage in a moment of intellectual connection. (Pix: Sudath Malaweera and Suranga Wanniarachchi)
The literature review takes on a theatrical portrayal during the event while Professors Sunanda Mahendra and Sunil Ariyaratne engage in a moment of intellectual connection. (Pix: Sudath Malaweera and Suranga Wanniarachchi)

During my brief tour in Sri Lanka, attending an SEO conference in Colombo, a close friend of mine invited me to a unique book launch event in the capital.

Intrigued by the prospect of experiencing a book launch the Sri Lankan way, I eagerly accepted the invitation. As someone who has attended numerous book launches in my home country of Singapore, I was excited to see the differences and similarities in how such events are celebrated in different cultures.

The book Sookshmatmatava Saha Nirmanashilitvaya (Sensitivity and Creativity) was launched at the Mahaweli Centre in Colombo on April 27. Written by Prof. Sunanda Mahendra, the book presents an academic literature review of 10 lyrics composed by Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne. During the event, attendees were treated to a theatrical presentation of the literature review.

One significant challenge I faced, however, was the language barrier. The primary medium of the event was Sinhala, which I was not proficient in. Thankfully, my colleague recognised this obstacle and kindly volunteered to act as my interpreter throughout the two-hour-long function.

Despite the language barrier, I was captivated by the atmosphere and energy of the book launch. It was a unique opportunity to witness the literary community coming together to celebrate the launch of a new work.

Celebration of the lyrics

The musical troupe in sync with the theatrical performance.

The event was a celebration of the lyrics penned by Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne, an academic and creative artist. The main focus of the book launch was to showcase and discuss ten of Prof. Ariyaratne’s profound lyrics. It was a testament to his lyrical prowess and the impact his words have had on the Sri Lankan literary scene. Rather than a traditional book launch where the author or speakers dominate the conversation, this event allowed the attendees to become an integral part of the experience. It created an interactive and dynamic atmosphere, where the contents of the book being acted out to take centrestage. This format fostered a sense of community and encouraged lively discussions among the audience members, who shared their perspectives and connected with the profound themes and messages within the lyrics.

The absence of formal talks and the active involvement of the audience set this book launch apart from others I had attended in the past. It was refreshing to witness a literary event that embraced a more inclusive and participatory approach, allowing everyone present to contribute and engage with the material on a personal level.

A talented group took centre stage, presenting the contents in a dramatic and theatrical form. On the right side of the stage, the theatrical team commanded attention with their remarkable performances. Their energy and commitment to bringing the lyrics to life were truly awe-inspiring. Through their movements, gestures, and expressions, they skillfully acted out the essence of each song. Their theatrical prowess extended beyond the boundaries of the music, as they ventured into dramatising the academic concepts mentioned in the book being launched.

Melodic contributions

Simultaneously, on the left side of the stage, a musical troupe enriched the experience with their melodic contributions. Accompanied by talented vocalists, they breathed life into the songs, infusing them with emotion and resonance. The seamless collaboration between the theatrical and musical groups created a harmonious fusion of the spoken word, visual storytelling, and musical expressions.

I couldn’t help but recall the vibrant arts scene in my native country. We, too, have witnessed the power of interdisciplinary collaborations and innovative performances. However, the Sri Lankan book launch brought a distinct flavour to the stage, incorporating a unique blend of dramatic storytelling, music, and academic interpretations.

Witnessing the theatrical group bringing the academic contents to life was a truly memorable experience. Their ability to transform abstract ideas into tangible performances showcased the profound impact of art and literature. It served as a reminder that creativity knows no boundaries and can bridge the gap between seemingly disparate fields.

The launch demonstrated the rich tapestry of artistic expressions, intertwining the written word, theatrical performances, and musical compositions. It was a testament to the diverse ways in which literature can be appreciated and celebrated. It deepened my appreciation for the universal language of art and the power it holds to connect people across cultures.

Prof. Sunanda Mahendra has delivered a thought-provoking commentary on the concepts underlying creative communication, focusing on ten verses penned by Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne. This occasion held special significance for several reasons, particularly in the academic realm where the evaluation of peer creations plays an essential role in intellectual discourse. However, it is crucial to approach this assessment without falling into the trap of making direct comparisons.

The commentary presented by Prof. Mahendra is multi-layered, offering a comprehensive exploration of the subject matter. At the first level, the focus was on identifying the creative aspect known as sensitivity. This involved delving into the intricate nuances embedded within the verses and recognising the depth of artistic expression they encompassed. By delving into the sensitivity, Prof. Mahendra shed light on the intricate craftsmanship of Prof. Ariyaratne’s work.

Moving to the second level, the commentary addressed the interpretation of diverse perspectives on sophistication and creativity. This facet of the analysis explored the varying viewpoints surrounding the level of complexity and ingenuity present in the verses. Prof. Mahendra skillfully unraveled the layers of meaning embedded within the text, offering insights into the intricate web of ideas, emotions, and cultural contexts that shaped the verses.

The multi-layered nature of the commentary allowed for a comprehensive exploration of the creative communication process. It went beyond surface-level interpretations, encouraging a deeper understanding of the complexities involved in conveying ideas and emotions through artistic expression. By delving into the subtleties and interpreting diverse views, Prof. Mahendra’s commentary enriched the appreciation of Prof. Ariyaratne’s work, offering a multidimensional perspective on the interplay between sophistication and creativity.

Value of peer evaluation

Dr. Nanda Malini sharing her thoughts from the audience perspective.

This occasion serves as a reminder of the richness of intellectual discourse and the value of peer evaluation in the academic community. The exploration of creative concepts through multi-layered commentary provided a platform for in-depth analysis and appreciation of the intricacies involved in artistic communication. It was a testament to the scholarly engagement and dedication to understanding the complexities of creative expression, fostering an environment where ideas and interpretations could thrive.

The process of aligning verses with the music produced by an instrument is undoubtedly a challenging task. It requires a delicate balance between sensory perception and subtlety. This delicate interplay is what ultimately determines whether a song resonates with us or fails to evoke any emotional response. We encounter lyrics that we hear but fail to feel, highlighting the importance of the intricate connection between words and music.

Recognising the level of delicacy and subtlety with which songs are created can be perceived through a heart-to-heart dialogue. This intimate conversation allows us to connect with the emotions and intentions conveyed through the music and lyrics. It is through this dialogue that we can discern the depth of craftsmanship and artistry that goes into crafting a song.

Heart conversation can take various forms, sometimes manifesting as self-reflection or introspection. It is in these moments of deep contemplation that we engage in a meditative soliloquy, as eloquently introduced by the poet Robert Frost. This concept encapsulates the profound internal dialogue that occurs within ourselves as we engage with music and poetry, allowing us to connect with our innermost thoughts and emotions.

The notion of meditative soliloquy invites us to explore the profound depths of our being, immersing ourselves in the sensory experience of music and lyrics. It encourages us to delve into the subtle nuances and intricate layers of meaning, fostering a deep connection with the art form.

Song creation

In the realm of song creation, the fusion of verses and music is an intricate dance between the artist’s intention, the sensory perception of the audience, and the subtleties of expression. It is through this delicate interplay that songs are brought to life, evoking emotions and touching the hearts of those who engage with them.

The exceptional talents of Ravindu Mahendra, Sanjivani Rupasinghe, Jayani Sarathchandra, Samali Dharmadasa, Nethma Samaraweera, Nimesh Niranjan, and Shan Maduranga command our utmost admiration for their meticulous and awe-inspiring performance.