Sunday, March 5, 2017

'Transcendence 2017': The underside of a concert

Movies, plays, and books were made for review. They were made for praise, criticism, and if necessary, revision. Exhibitions and concerts, however, are a different ball-game altogether.  No two books can ever be the same, even if both are by the same author or contain the same story. To a certain extent, the same can be said of exhibitions. But concerts? It’s difficult, if not impossible, to think of a way to differentiate them from each other. Fact is, there’s really nothing much to make one stand out from the rest.

That is why it is interesting to delve into the “underside” of a concert. That is why it is pertinent to record that underside. This is the story of one such concert, which has an underside that deserves more than a cursory sketch. Before I get to that, though, a few preliminaries are in order.

I am not a subscriber to the Rotaract Movement, so I know very little about the hierarchies embedded in it. I do know that it has received both praise and critique, for being there whenever there was a national emergency and for being “swayed” by the misconception that the worthiness of a project depends on the budget it entails. I know that there is a comprehensive network throughout the country. More pertinently, I know that it officially begins at school. That is what the Interact Movement is about.

Because Interact involves students, it is qualitatively different to Rotaract. The basis, however, is the same: a Club is assessed on how well it’s organised its projects. The more these projects bring out the camaraderie at the heart of the Interact Movement and the more they help impoverished communities by, say, building a school or refurbishing a hospital, the more points they get. While I have reservations about doling out points for charitable acts this way, I know that children are less swayed by the rush to brag and flaunt whatever good work they do.

While Colombo is chock-a-block with Interact Clubs, however, not everyone makes it to the top. Call it fate, call it coincidence, their rise or fall is dependent on both hard work and history. To a considerable extent, therefore, they are shaped by the dedication of their members. I fervently believe that this explains the success that the Interact Club of Ananda College has enjoyed, particularly in its latest project, “Transcendence 2017”. Before I get to “Transcendence” (the concert I was talking about earlier and which will unveil at the BMICH on Saturday, March 11 at 5.30 pm), I will lay out the history of this particular Club.

It officially began in 1981, though it was birthed in 1970 after which 11 dormant years followed. Glancing through its history, I was impressed by the landmarks it has recorded. To date, it has contributed more than nine District Interact Representatives and seven District Interact Secretaries. That feat has not been matched by any other school, in Colombo or elsewhere. In 2003, it became the Best Club in Interact District 3220, walking away with 14 awards (another unmatched feat). In 2008, it clinched the first Governor’s Shield created for Interactors.

I was even more impressed by the projects it has organised. It was behind “Morning of Friendship”, which brought Interactors from across the country together, at one place, date, and time, to celebrate their fellowship. It gave out “Hope”, which took the form of blood donation and health camps and was cited as the Best Community Service Project for seven consecutive years. It then went on with “Building Bridges”, where it got together with a school in India under another Interact category, International Understanding.

From that point on, naturally, it whizzed ahead: “Nethra”, “Colour Conflict”, and “Epitome of Rejoice” were Finance Projects, “Cyber Action” and “Culture Coaster” promoted International Understanding, and “Project IR” was innovative and out of the blue. These have not gone unacknowledged: “Nethra” became one of the biggest finance projects ever, while “Project IR” was cited as the Most Innovative Club Service Project of 2013/14. It is from this veritable stream that we now get “Transcendence”.

What exactly is “Transcendence”? A concert, of course. Is it any different to other concerts organised by other outfits and people? Not really. Concerts are concerts. As I pointed out at the beginning, there’s very little that distinguishes one from another. On the other hand, however, “Transcendence” as an Interact Project is more differentiable. Because no other school or Club could come up with such a venture, it was cited as the Best Finance Project in 2016, the year it was launched.

So who will see at the BMICH on March 11? We will see Bathiya, Umariya, Chitral Somapala, Sanuka Wickramasinghe, Dushyanth Weeraman, Devshan Perera, Daddy, NAADRO, and Kurumba. “A night to remember” is how Anandians have marketed it, which I personally think may well be the case, not only because so many artistes are to come but because the melodies they will exhibit will vary, differ, and add colour. Can we expect anything more? Yes, in what the Interactors are hoping to do: aid another Community Service Project at Ananda (“Epitome of Rejoice”) and build a school in Kurunegala. All in all, a worthy cause.

Given all this, what can we do? We can go, watch, and listen. We can also be enthralled. It’s bound to be just another concert, yes, but while we may have come across those aforementioned performers before, I have a feeling that “Transcendence 2017”, like “Transcendence 2016”, will be defined more by the underside it engenders than the mere fact that it’s (what else?) just another concert.

Tickets are priced at Rs 1000, Rs 2000, and Rs 3000 and can be purchased at the following outlets: Sarasavi Book Shop Nugegoda and Maharagama, Vanapetha Bookshop Dehiwala, Yamaha Music Centre, Ranfer Tea Shop Colombo 03, Abans Main Showroom Colombo 03, and For more details, you can contact Kithmin at 0717077771 and Dileesha at 0711626784.

Written for: Ceylon Today HELLO, March 5 2017