Please share your background with us.
Rohan De Lanerolle: It is safe to say that we had music from our father’s and mother’s sides. Our paternal grandfather & uncles were all singers and dramatists, and so is our dad, who is our worst critic to-date, as he has a very good ear mainly. Our mother was a fantastic pianist and came first in the Island twice in her Royal Schools Exams, but parenting took centre stage and, as such, she did not give sufficient time for playing: a facet we appreciate dearly as it’s not every mother who would sacrifice something she loves so much just for the kids. Our mother’s brother too sings quite well. So, I think it’s safe to say that we have got talents on both sides! Of course, later, both of us went on to be part of our school and church choirs.
What was it like growing in Sri Lanka? How did you acquire your vocal training?
Ishan De Lanerolle: Growing up in Sri Lanka was quite challenging as there was not much of a following for church and classical music and I would say it still remains. We also did not have professionally trained teachers to teach vocal techniques, so most if not all were music teachers but fantastic singers. Rohan only had a formal training period once he started work with Singapore Airlines where he went on to be their first directly appointed Cargo Sales and Operations Manager, but prior to having those duties he used up his tickets and leave to travel up to London every four months to have intense training for a week each with Prof. Ken Woollam of the Royal College of Music. He in turn shared those teachings with me so I am a beneficiary of his teaching.
How is the classical music and arts scene in Sri Lanka today? Are there any active orchestras?
Ishan: The Classical and Arts scene is small which is appreciated by a certain group of people only as most prefer the popular music. We have a Symphony Orchestra which is a semi-professional Orchestra but the oldest in Colombo who have atleast three concerts a year. Then we have the Chamber Orchestra and the Youth Orchestra as well supported by ensembles of Brass, Wind and Strings too. The only professional Orchestra was when the Philharmonic Orchestra was in force but with the demise of its energetic conductor, it shut down.
When did you last perform in India? Do you plan on visiting again?
Rohan: We last performed in India in 2013/2014 on the invitation of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations together with world renowned Sri Lankan Pianist Rohan De Silva in Delhi, Calcutta and Bangalore which was our highly successful debut series.
What changes do you hope to see in the near future?
Ishan: In relation to Classical Music, my personal belief is that the changes one would need to make will be to presentation and integration. Classical Music needs to evolve to be appreciated by the younger generation – this could mean mixing up a program, different and unheard venues, each organiser would need to come up with better ideas.
Advice for aspiring singers?
Rohan: Be patient for your success and do not try to sing the too heavy songs before your own voice has matured as that causes long term damage to your voice and try not to go beyond yourselves as this is what happens to not only singers but to most musicians!
Why is music and its education important?
Ishan: first of all music is relaxing and why I feel that it’s very important now is because of the pressure and stress children have these days with their academic work, music takes the form of relaxation amidst the busy hectic schedules.
Science has proved the importance of music of any form as a must in peoples well being. All these reasons makes music a must in a persons life