Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cliff Foenander

11/10/2007 03:17PM
Contributed by: asiaradionews

General NewsCliff Foenander was one of Sri Lanka's great musicians. He was King of the 'crooners' in 1950s and 1960s Ceylon. Foenander had a passion for music and he was determined to succeed in life. He reached the dizzy heights of stardom - not only in Sri Lanka but right across South and South East Asia, and even the United States of America.

Sri Lanka remember's Cliff Foenander - his 7th death anniversary falls on the 21st of November 2007 - he passed away in Australia. Recently, thanks to You Tube there has been a real revival of music connected with Sri Lanka's first international star, Cliff Foenander. Thousands have logged on to youtube to hear The Fabulous Echoes. The whole history of The Fabulous Echoes is also on You Tube.

Foenander was a pioneer - one of his earliest hits was 'Butterfly in the Rain' composed by the great singer/songwriter Nimal Mendis. Radio Ceylon, the oldest radio station in South Asia discovered Cliff Foenander. The legendary Radio Ceylon announcers Vernon Corea, Tim Horshington, Livy Wijemanne, Jimmy Bharucha, promoted his music throughout the lates 1950s and 1960s on the airwaves of the radio station. Radio Ceylon was 'King of the Airwaves' in South Asia and Cliff Foenander's music was played to the huge audience on the Indian sub-continent. He had a succession of number one hits in South Asia as a result of the exposure on Radio Ceylon.

Foenander's big break came along when he joined one of the hottest acts in Hong Kong, 'The Fabulous Echoes.' They had a massive hit with 'A Little Bit of Soap' in 1964 released on Diamond Records - they enjoyed 25 weeks in the Number one position in the Hong Kong Charts. 'A Little Bit of Soap' was a huge hit in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, The Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Cliff Foenander and The Fabulous Echoes had a string of hits, among them - 'Dancing on The Moon,' 'Sukiyaki,' 'Cry,' 'Another Saturday Night,' 'Another Romance,' 'I know,' 'The Wedding,' 'Skip to My Lou, 'Sunshine,' 'Way Back When,' 'Mashed Potato,' 'It Won't be Long,' 'Day By Day,' 'This Land is My Land.'

As a result of their huge hit 'A Little Bit of Soap' among a string of hits in South East Asia, The Fabulous Echoes were invited to play Las Vegas. Cliff Foenander and the group were playing with the greats - The 'rat pack,' Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior who were performing in Las Vegas at the time in the early 1960s - they performed with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Pat Boone among a whole host of stars.

One evening Cliff Foenander sang a song to a lady in the audience, she like The Fabulous Echoes so much that she told her husband. He happened to be the great Ed Sullivan who also liked their style and sound. He signed them up for two shows and Ceylon's Cliff Foenander was seen by an audience of 45 million viewers. Foenander was at the very top with the Fabulous Echoes. They were a hit in Las Vegas.

Thanks to the phenomenon of You Tube, Foenander's nephew, Rob who is carrying on the musical tradition of the Foenander Family in Australia has released Cliff Foenander's back catalogue. You can now see Sri Lanka's great musician performing in Hong Kong with The Fabulous Echoes.

To hear Cliff Foenander sing the number one hit of The Fabulous Echoes: 'A Little Bit of Soap,' please type in 'Cliff Foenander' on you tube:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Erin Kelaart

MULTI-FACETED NIGHTINGALE - A voice that still resonates with quality, is evergreen Erin Kelaart, of “Kelaart Sisters” fame…

The halcyon 1960’s was an era which gave Ceylon’s (as it was then known) music industry a much-needed head start and shot in the arm; producing some of the most dynamic, versatile and flamboyant performers.

Some are still pro-active, others have passed on, while the rest sadly languish on the backburner.

One singer however, whose voice still resonates with quality, is evergreen Erin Kelaart, of “Kelaart Sisters” fame. Still held in high esteem, respected, admired and emulated by her peers, she traverses life’s odyssey with gusto and resolve.

In a soul-baring, exclusive interview with Joe Van Langenberg of The Sri Lankan Anchorman, Erin highlights her musical milestones during that golden era and talks about the battle with personal demons, which not only threatened her sanity, but also almost destroyed her life.

Regarded as one of the linchpins of pop music in Sri Lanka during the golden sixties, she was the youngest singer to blaze a trail in the corridors of entertainment; a phenomenal success and multi-talented nightingale who reached the pinnacle of fame in a relatively short time frame.

Born to Erwin and Anne Kelaart, Erin was the second of six children. Given her parents’ musical prowess, it was a foregone conclusion the lass would eventually follow in their footsteps.
Erin cut her musical teeth under the tutelage of Doris Forbes, who persuaded her to follow her dream and hone her singing skills.

Though guided by Estelle de Niese, Erin was not professionally trained. Through sheer perseverance and invaluable know-how from her Mum and Dad, Erin’s vocal range became enriched and took on an unique edge.

Improving in leaps and bounds and gaining in confidence, Erin decided the time was ripe to start firing on all cylinders. “I felt sure of myself and knew I could make an impact,” she said.
Erin made her singing debut at aged fifteen. “I sang Stupid Cupid, which later became my signature piece. Then, at a Father’s Day concert, I warbled my vocals to great effect around Silver haired daddy of mine added Erin, her voice laced with emotion.

She started singing on radio, also at fifteen, later entering the “Airship Talent Quest” with the melancholic Jim Reeves hit, Dark Moon. “For some strange reason, the number appealed to me,” she said laughingly. Erin and her sister Erma, entered the Maliban Talent Quest in 1965 and came second with You’ve got me under your spell again.

Erin was adjudged winner of the Maliban Talent Quest for 1965 with her powerful rendition of Kiss of fire.

She was over the moon and floated on Cloud 9 when her name was read out by all-time great, Livy Wijemanne.

The thunderous applause was sweet music to her ears. “It was pretty exciting,” said Erin.
Dubbed the local “Connie Francis”, Erin became an overnight sensation. She was spotted by legendary talent scout cum showbiz personality of yesteryear, Decima de Kretser; who opened doors of opportunity, by giving her top billing on all her shows.
Erin’s performances were classy, breathtaking and spectacular. She moved on stage like a soft, summer breeze. Soon, everyone wanted a piece of her. “It was intoxicating,” she added, peering through the mists of time. The sixties was a time when entertainers of the calibre of Gerry Crake, Papa Miskin, Wadham Dole, Harold Seneviratne, Adrian Ferdinands, Jimmy Weerasinghe and Galali Ahmith held sway.

Now it was Erin’s turn to join the elite ranks. She became the new kid on the block, causing quite a buzz on the circuit.

Erin’s repertoire comprised a blend of soulful ballads, stimulating tempo, pulsating rhythm; even including a few of Chubby Checker’s gyrating hits, notably, Let’s twist again.
Her glossy, luxuriant black tresses cascading to her shoulders, enhanced her natural beauty and youthful exuberance, with her face bearing the hallmark of childhood innocence. These attributes not only endeared her to an amalgam of audiences, but also warmed the cockles of many a male admirer’s heart. Some even called her “Lady with the mystic smile”.

Erin, along with her mother and siblings migrated to Australia in 1972, but shortly after arrival, moved to London and resided with her partner for five years; thereafter returning to Australia in 1977. “My marriage unfortunately didn’t work out. I reckon it wasn’t meant to be,” she said, her voice tinged with an iota of regret.

Erin has been battered and bruised by the vicissitudes of life, an emotional roller-coaster and prolonged confrontation with the “black dog” called depression. She was forced to run the gauntlet, but emerged stronger, despite having rolled with the punches.
Her troubles, later developing into a nightmare, began at a time when life was full of fun and laughter. She was only nine; a mere kid.

Both her Mum and Dad were blissfully happy, together with the rest of her siblings. The Kelaart’s family was closely-knit, bound by sterling Christian values. No one expected the bubble to burst, but it certainly did.

Everything was hunky-dory until satanic forces cruelly ripped their parents apart, driving an irreparable wedge between two compatible people.

What transpired in 1955 was the beginning of a vicious cycle. “My Dad was a wonderful man, deeply devoted to Mum. She was his world. It was devastating to see him change into someone unrecognizable through no fault of his,” said Erin sadly.

Her world was torn asunder. Watching helplessly, as her mother stoically suffered in silence, Erin’s life took a turn for the worse.

She waded through rapids of rock-bottom lows, suffocated by quicksand's of despair. This was the start of a protracted depressive spiral, culminating in a propensity for self-destruction. She found herself floating in a vacuum; disorientated and wiped-out.

Resilient woman

However, this courageous, resilient woman, like her mother, has overcome monumental odds in the face of adversity; finally putting the ghosts to rest. “Dwelling on the past is an exercise in futility. Focusing on the positives should be the bottom-line,” says Erin realistically.
O Father Mine, is an awe-inspiring chronicle of Erin’s true-life encounters which gives a spine-tingling, mind-boggling, in-depth insight into the supernatural and despicable levels one could descend to, by not only violating every canon of human decency, but also surreptitiously robbing another of tranquility.

Her literary skills are impeccable, writing style exquisite; bound to keep readers spellbound and riveted to their seats. “I have dedicated this book to my beautiful mother, who was my anchor on life’s turbulent ocean,” Erin emphasized.

Not one to rest on her laurels, she has now released a CD of gospel hits. Many books, poems are in the pipeline, along with a few irons blazing in the fire. Erin’s life has come full circle since those traumatic days, which she likens to an experiment gone horribly wrong.

Now a committed Christian, who sings in her local choir in Auburn, New South Wales, Erin at 60 years young, is a boon to those standing to gain by her sagacity and inner strength.
A humanitarian in her own right, Erin’s commendable deeds involving helping disempowered women and kids, have spread far and wide. She is particularly concerned about human rights abuses in impoverished Sierra Leone and raises funds for the underprivileged.
Erin is a heroine who feels no bitterness towards those who wronged her. This speaks volumes for her integrity.

She has not only done her motherland proud, but is also a role model for the younger generation. What makes her so special, is her ability to separate the


[The SrilnkanAnchorman Nov 4 2007]

Halucinating Harold

Golden Clef
a good yearly award

Harold Seneviratne

They say that in his halcyon days Harold Seneviratne was a dominant force in our music scene. Given another opportunity to relive his life and you can bet he'd choose to be a musician, although he very nearly ended up being a full time planter on a tea estate.

But family circumstances, the loss of his father in his early years thwarted that move and looking back he is glad he had to become a musician because he found happiness and popularity with his dance band the Harold Seneviratne Combo.

Fifty three years in Sri Lanka's show biz and as we know, Harold was a dominant personality in the many facets of the "there's no business like show business." The dance band's career in Sri Lanka the combo's outings overseas, the musical backing for countless foreign acts, the regular radio broadcasts, the record releases (then it was 45 rpm) the programme series that were Harold Seneviratne specials, and his years as Entertainment Manager, is history now.

In recognition of his vast contribution to the music industry in Sri Lanka and his appreciative moves to put our island very definitely on the map then, in the world of music, the Sunday Observer honoured him with the Golden Clef Award 2002. What is his comment?

"It was a great idea to bring back the Golden Clef. We need more quality musicians. Most of our good musicians have gone out of the country or given up playing. It is a good to have the awards yearly, provided there is a bigger turn out of musicians. It is a pity most of our young musicians use keyboards with programming. If they could play the drums, guitar live that would mean we are progressing because we need to progress and keep the industry alive and bristling."

A student of St. Peter's College and extremely active in the Music, drama and Arts Society, Harold learnt the violin as a start to his musical career. "My two brothers Tissa - drums and Chandra - bass, we studied under Papa Menezes. I learnt piano as well, then switched to the sax and mastered it in three months." What followed swiftly in a scene that was highly competitive at that time what with foreign bands playing here, was the birth of the Harold Seneviratne Combo and its launch at the Pigalle Night Club in 1953.

"Those were the days when ballroom dancing was in vogue and my combo comprised Nimal Mendis - piano, Sepala Alles - violin and my brother Tissa on drums. We had to play from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and I was there for about an year before I moved out to play at Mubarak Thaha's Atlanta night club, with a change of personnel. Patrick Nelson and Raife Jansz alternated on piano and my two brothers Chandra played bass, while Tissa continued on drums.

We had to frequently back foreign acts - singers and dancers which kept us on our toes," Harold reminisces. Perhaps a major highlight in his career was when the Combo was invited to play at the Orchid Room and Greenhouse at Victoria Park, by the famous impresario Donovan Andree. The Combo here too had to back many foreign acts including the popular 'In My Little Room' Tony Brent.

The popularity of the Combo escalated and the band was a much sought after one for all the leading corporate dances relayed often by Radio Ceylon that were frequently held not only in Colombo but in the 'outstations' as well. There were other prestigious highlights in Harold's career.

The band opened at the Little Hut, Mt. Lavinia in '60, at the Taprobane Grill Room in '63, the Blue Leopard in '69 and the Cat's Eye night club at the InterContinental Hotel in '73. The personnel in his band changed over the years and at the well patronised Cat's Eye he had with him Patrick Nelson - piano, Shanthi Seneviratne - drums, Adrian Ariyaratne - bass, Myfanwy de Silva, Sam Nathan - vocals and Anil Samarawickrema - guitar.

But above all, the Combo gained international status when Harold played at the Taj, Oberoi, Intercontinental New Delhi from 1970-72. "Biky Oberoi and Gautum Khanna directors of Oberoi invited me to play after hearing us at the Blue Leopard and in New Delhi we had absolute response.

We broke all sales records of the dining room patronised daily by politicians, film stars and international personalities. Usha Iyer performed with me, and my band then comprised Patrick Nelson - piano, Tom Menezes - trumpet/Tissa Seneviratne - drums, Nizam Adahan - guitar, Malcolm de Kauwe - vocals/bass, and Royce Paes - trumpet and bass," recalls a happy smiling Harold. There were overseas performances like, to London at the Sherton Tower, Hong Kong at Regent with Jetliners and Dubai International.

Other mumerous moments in Harold's career were too many to record here. But we can't pass by without mentioning his recording sessions on 45 rpm for our singers.

Cherry Blossom Tree and Goodnight Kisses by the Jay Brothers, Kandyan Express by Nimal Mendis, Oh My Lover by Sandra Edema, Champagne Blues - featuring Edgar Hebber and Butterfly in the Rain by Cliff Foenander to name a few, all popular hits on radio.

Music lovers will recall quite naturally his eagerly awaited special programme series 'Golden Oldies' and 'Yesterday Once More.' Harold's committed love for music saw him accept posts of Manager Taprobane, Little Hut, Mt. Lavinia and Director Entertainment Hilton Colombo to share his expertise with the Managements, which further escalated his popularity.

But behind all this vast success in his music career Harold confesses proudly is his wife Barbara. "We are together forty seven years and we did it through thick and thin. She is the wind beneath my wings!"

[Sunday Observer, June 1 2003]

'Golden Dance Medley's' by Harold Seneviratne

Veteran Musician released his very first compact disc 'Golden Dance Medleys last week.

The name, Harold Seneviratne, is synonymous with vintage music of a very high quality, which has held Sri Lankan fame enthralled for several decades.

His new CD and audio comprises ten dance medleys from Waltz, Cha-cha, Latin, Ballroom, Samba, Rumba to bailas.

'Oh My Papa', 'Sail Along Silvery Moon', 'In My Little Room', 'Side By Side', 'On the Street, Where You Give', Tennessee "Waltz". "It's a Long Way to Tipperery", 'Auld Lang Syne', 'Que Sera', 'Quando', 'La Paloma', 'Brazil', 'Marina' are some of the old favourites featuring on this latest album of Harold.

The musical backing for this 'Golden Dance Medley's' by Harold himself with his Atto Sax along with Duncan Clyde on drums, Hilary Christie on Key Boards, Clifford Andrews on guitar, Darion Perera on guitar, Ranjan De Silva on bass and Malcolm De Zilva on Tenor Sax.

The CD and audio is a production of Torana music and it is available at all Torana outlets.

Harold took to music at the tender age of thirteen while still at his "Alma Mater" St. Peter's College. Two names he can never forget are those of "Papa" Menezes and Donovan Andree, who nurtured his talent and encouraged him tremendously in his musical career.

His performances at the Silver Fawn night club the Orchid Room, the GOH and New Delhi, just mention a few venues are now legendary. Horold has had the honour of playing before such international personalities as Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Jack Tea Garden and Red Nichols and the Five Pennies. He has also provided the musical backing for his school-mate Bill Forbes, The Golden Gate' quartet, Tony Brent, The Blue Diamonds and other top flight international artistes.

[TV Times Dec 15 2002]

Peterite Singers

Peterite Singers: Keeping musical tradition alive

W.Aiyyar and Gerard Puvinayagam discuss an observed phenomenon at St. Peter’s College Bambalapitiya that has been noted for well over half a century.

St. Peter’s College hall was built in 1931 and provided excellent acoustics to all singers and musicians. The performers in turn paid tribute to the hall’s sound-enhancing capacity with their well-rehearsed and first-rate renditions.

St. Peter’s College as an institution has always had a deep interest in all forms of music. In addition, many of its students possessed outstanding musical talents which were recognised and appreciated even after they had left school.

Peterite musicians had their own unique style. Many popular bands were dominated by former Peterites. They included musical legends such as : Harold Seneviratne, Micki, Tom, Ralph and Roger Meneazes, Sonny Bartholomeusz Raddy Ferreira, Patrick Nelson, Malcolm de Zilwa and Conrad Silva.

Among choir-masters and choristers who were former Peterites were Elsworth Anrado (Dehiwala) Ray Forbes (Dehiwala) Prof. Earle de Fonseka (Bambalapitiya). Choristers in the St. Mary’s Choral Group which was formed in 1967 and was trained by Rev. Fr. Claver Perera, were largely Peterites.

Many priests who served at St. Peter’s College, were a source of strength and example of the Catholic faith. They included Rev. Frs. Basil Wiratunga, Mervyn Weerakoddy, Marceline Jayakody, Arthur N. Fernando, Theodore Peiris, Joe Wickramasinghe.
St. Peter’s produced the first school band in Ceylon in 1955. It was the Rev. Fr. Arthur Fernando’s brain-child. Dodwell de Silva was the band leader. He now resides in Australia.

The Peterite school choir, since the 1940s, excelled in Gregorian chants to such an extent, that their chant truly sounded divine.

Guitarists among the Peterite fraternity were Winston Jayawardene (classic) both musician and teacher. Alfo Paiva was a lead guitarist, rock music being his forte. He performed with Gabo and The Breakaways, Sohan and the Experiments.

The following describes some of the outstanding former Peterite singers and their unique musical talents:

Tenor Nihal Fonseka’s voice is of operatic quality. He has sung in Sri Lanka and abroad to captive audiences. Nihal is now resident in Canada and performs regularly at public concerts and at church services. He is married a second time, his wife Eve being a soprano who often performs with her husband.

Bill Forbes has been London – based from the early fifties. Bill worked at the Shell Co. of Ceylon. His voice had a high-frequency vibrato that was hardly heard in his pop rendition. With proper training he could have risen to classical heights of a famous tenor. However he opted for pop music. His repertoire ranged from local pop music to `Ave Marias’. His own compositions that ranged from `Believe in me’ to the light – hearted trilingual “Oh to be in Yengeland” with snatches of carnatic music are still remembered.

The Rev. Fr. Claver Perera has a Caruso type robust tenor voice. He returned to Ceylon from Rome in the late sixties. He founded the St. Mary’s Choral Group in (1967) whose members were largely Peterites. Now resident at the National Seminary, Ampitiya, Fr. Claver trains young seminarians in vocal music and elocution. He also teaches English, being a graduate of the University of Peradeniya (Jennings era).

Bede Zilwa is a high – register Tesatura tenor. His voice is on disc in Australia. He also sings Church solos. He was a well known radio artiste whilst in Sri Lanka. Bede now lives in Australia with his second wife. Sal, who hails from the island of Tonga. As a lyric tenor, Bede takes high Cs with the greatest of ease while he rolls off the low notes with equal panache.

Mellifluous baritone Douglas de Niese was born to sing. A graded Radio Ceylon artiste, he also made on invaluable contribution to the St. Mary’s Choir, Dehiwala, together with his lovely wife Estelle, a teacher of vocal music and a fine mezzo soprano. Douglas’s memorable renditions will always be perennial favourities . For example: “I’ll Walk Beside You” and “Loves Old Sweet Song”.

Light baritone Vernon Crusz performed over Radio Ceylon in the fifties, singing perennial favourites. Vernon’s father, Michael Crusz, was on the staff of St. Peter’s College.

Desmond Kelly, now residing in Australia, is a pop singer of repute. His “Dream World” was a memorable number heard over Radio Ceylon.

Green-eyed Dennis Roberts joined the navy to see the world. He will always be remembered for his effortless vocal renditions.

Light tenor Dr. Tony Don Michael was a most enthusiastic and correct tenor. When Luigi Infantine visited Ceylon in 1955 and sang in the College Hall, Tony later sang privately for him. Tony did well in the field of medicine and he is now an eminent cardiologist who lives in the USA.
Gerard Puvinayagam (Lyrical Tenor) is a graded Radio Ceylon artiste who performed in the sixties and seventies. He was a member of St. Mary’s Choir Bambalapitiya, and also a soloist. He commenced his self trained vocalizations in the early sixties. Gerard is thankful to Neville de Cruse, Librarian of the Medical Faculty, Colombo, for his knowledgeable advice on intercostals breathing and diaphragmatic control, when one’s voice is emitted in the bel canto style. Bel canto also produces a purity of tone which calls for maximum use of the head register. This austere and classical style also epitomizes good singing to those of that school.

Pop singer Steve de Silva performed regularly at concerts and dances in hotels.
Baritone Rohan Jayawardena has lots of quality. He is rarely heard these days, except at weddings, funerals and at St. Mary’s Church, Dehiwela. The timbre of his voice has a resonating nasal quality, like that of his guru Douglas de Niese.

Malcom de Zilva is an accomplished saxophonist similar to maestro Harold Seniviratne. He was sought after by popular bands.

Prof. Earle de Fonseka was both conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Ceylon as well as the Catholic Choral Society. He was also a choir-master at St. Mary’s Church, Bambalaptia.

Earle was considered an amateur conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Ceylon. He kept western classical music alive in the Island. Without his efforts, many generations would not have had this type of exposure. He always channelled his energies towards inculcating knowledge in the young who were keen to learn. He had a rare collection of musical scores and recorded music of the great masters covering classical, romantic and choral. In a nutshell, this former Peterite’s contribution is outstanding.

Earle de Fonseka’s academic qualifications included: Bachelor of Music London; Professor of Privative Medicine Colombo; Dean of the Faculty of Medicine – Colombo University 1988; Professor of the Institute of Post Graduate Medicine, Colombo.
Fame rested lightly on Earle de Fonseka and simplicity was his main feature.

Harold Seneviratne, Mickey, Tom Ralph and Roger Menezies in the 1950s and 60s were the popular bands during that period. Harold was unparallel during that era and the image of St. Peter’s College, really stood tall.

Patrick Nelson was a lobby pianist in the seventies who had a wide repetoire. He was much sought after especially by hotels. He died in a tragic bus accident, the victim of misplaced hospitality by his many admirers who plied him with liquor. Finally, Patrick missed his footing on the bus when he boarded the bus to go home.

Mano Chanmugam is a pianist with a delicate touch, who was a marvel at improvisation. An engineer by profession he helped to structurally modernize St. Peter’s College Hall.
Tony Ambrose is a walking encyclopedia. He possesses an in- depth knowledge of vocal music. His enthusiasm has spurred him to visit many opera houses at his own expense. Among these are La Scalla, Milan, Vienna Opera House – Austria; Covent Gardens, London the Metropolitan, New York and the French opera house in Paris.

Tony Ambrose aspired to be a tenor but eventually realized he was cut out for intellectual pursuits.

His father, John Ambrose was on the staff of St. Peter’s College in the forties and fifties.
Sunil Perera is the leader of the Gypsies and he is their soloist. His renditions are full of catchy and homely humour. He is widely appreciated both here and abroad. He is much sought after for concert appearances and commercial advertisements because of his unique style and tone of voice that endears him to millions.

The following names are those of old Peterites who became announcers all Radio Ceylon.
Jimmy Barucha – of ` Melodies and Memories’ fame, Stephen Alageratnam –` famous songs by famous singers’; Tommy Perera – Sports round-up; Jimmy Barucha was a legend as a presenter of programmes and the timbre of his speaking voice was a joy to listen to.

Stephen Alagaratnam was a member of St. Mary’s Choral group and at St. Mary’s Choir, Bambalpitiya, in the sixties and seventies. A man of many parts, he captained St. Peter’s at rugby and basketball in the sixties. He holds a doctorate in law and is lecturing in the USA. He is a national of Canada.

Tony Perera is well known for his sports round-up eagerly looked forward to by young and old.If there were a need for a mixed choir, our sister school Holy Family Convent, Bambalpitiya readily participated. The girls of HFC can boast of an equally rich musical tradition over the years as that of the boys of St. Peter’s College.

The Peterite musicians consisted of students from many ethnic groups. Special mention must be made of those who belonged to the Burgher Community for their substantial contribution in upholding the Peterite musical tradition from the forties to the mid-seventies.

[Nation, Sunday Sep 23 2007]

Musical Memories

Musical Memories

By Trevine Rodrigo in Melbourne

Evergreen trumpeter Dallas Achilles celebrated 50 years in the music business in style taking a trip down memory lane at a musical extravaganza featuring some of Sri Lanka’s best musicians of yesteryear at the Grand Hotel in Wantirna, Australia.

Among a galaxy of performers invited by Alston Koch, who was instrumental in drawing in the invitees to honour Dallas, were the legendary line- up from the 50’s and 60’s comprising, Des Kelly, Conrad de Silva, Malcolm De Kauwe, the latter a respected performer in Perth over the past 27 years, and Claude Selvaratnam who had the audience teary and spellbound with their breathtaking performance.

They were ably backed by guitar maestros Milroy Passe de Silva and Tony Fernando, with famed saxophonist Ernie Walker, Dallas’ Anglo Indian partner Derek Stewart, Elmo Mulholland, Eddie James, Rob Foenander, and among the younger generation, Cathy and Peter Menzies and Andrea Marr appearing as guest performers for the night. Incidentally, Cathy and Peter Menzies are the offspring of legendary musician Tom Menzies who was Dallas’ guru and mentor in his formative years as a trumpeter. Much like their illustrious dad, they were a class act.

There were also the musical comedy acts performed by Chris Pietersz and Arthur Speldewinde that had the crowd in stitches. I caught up with Dallas after his night of nights to capture some of his experiences as he journeyed through five decades in the music industry. He spoke of the days as a lad in Mount Mary where his dad who was a railway man, moved with his family to the railway quarters in Borella.

“My first real gig was in September 1957 where as a 16-year-old, I sang at the Christian Guild for the first time,” he recalled. His talent was soon noticed and before long he found himself moving into the mainstream of Sri Lanka’s music scene being hired by the biggest man in showbiz in the country, Donovan Andree.

Dallas Achilles has been a member of almost every single band of note in Sri Lanka especially the famous combos such as Raddy Ferreira Combo, Adrian Ferdinands Combo, Helen Lucas Combo, Peter Prins Combo, Rex de Silva and the Rhythm Dukes, Gabo and the Breakaways, and the ever famous Jetliners.After migrating to Australia in 1974 with his beauty queen wife Sita, (nee Gunaratne), he played at some of the biggest night spots in Melbourne notably the Swagman, teaming up with Ernie Walker, Tyronne Senn, Felix Fernando, Conrad de Silva and Milroy Passe De Silva who were other well known Sri Lankans to perform at this venue.

At 66, he still enjoys turning up for Replay 6 at their endless dinner dances in Melbourne proving beyond any doubt, that music is a talent that never dies.

Sunday Observer Nov 4 2007

COMMENT: Tom Menezies was also my guru and taught me the art of playing jazz drums and reading drum music scientifically at his home at Dehiwela in the sixties. Both Cathy and Peter were little kids then and used to sit around me and listen while I played rums and Tom played piano. On some practice sessions I remember Cathy, little as she was then, playing the piano while Tom played on his Double Bass and I belted out the skins. I simply cpouldn't hold back the emotions when I read the above news article in todays Sundat Times. Tom was a fantastic man and a great musician who will always linger in my heart. – Fazli Sameer