The passing away of veteran musician Pandith W.D. Amaradeva saddened not just his fans in Sri Lanka but the world too.
Honorary Lecturer in Education in University of Birmingham, England, Christopher Robertson who has worked in Sri Lanka, is one such person. He shared his cherished memories of late Pandith Amaradeva with Hiru News.
Mr. Robertson has worked with the UK based organisation Voluntary Service Overseas, at the Prithipura Communites 'project' to support the development of education, independent living and employment opportunities for disabled children and young people in Sri Lanka.
During his stay here, he has worked in Asokapura, a rural village in Kegalle district, which could be reached only on foot. In 1977 “an uphill walk of a few miles from the local hamlet of Kehelpannala”, he said.
Mr. Robertson had wanted to run a rural music event at Asokapura. This was for the disabled children and young people living there, but also local farmers and villagers.
“I knew and loved Pandith Amaradeva's music from the radio and decided to contact him directly in Colombo to ask if he might consider playing a concert at Asokapura,” he said adding, “To my amazement, he agreed, and said that he would travel to the community on the agreed date.”
After the event was arranged Pandith Amaradeva has arrived for the concert with a band.
Mr. Robertson remembered that the walk to Asokapura was tiring for late Pandith Amaradeva.
“However, after taking some refreshment, he and his fellow musicians were ready to perform. It was late in day and close to sunset, but with hastily constructed lighting in place and rudimentary amplification we were ready to go,” he writes.
“The concert lasted for a couple of hours and I shall never forget Pandit's wonderful rendition of Pawena nil walawa, as it floated underneth a starry sky and across the valley below. I shall never forget it, and I am sure the concert remained in the hearts of the local community for years to come.”
Mr. Robertson said these were “wonderful memories, of a wonderful musician and man of ordinary people”.