By Bernadine Rodrigo
Music educationalist, pianist, and accompanist and Soul Sounds Music Director Soundarie David Rodrigo’s newest show, “Kaadhalil” focusing mainly on Tamil music from India, is scheduled to be held on 27 March from 7 p.m. onwards at the Bishop’s College Auditorium. While Soul Sounds is not unknown for experimenting and trying out new things, this did indeed sound very different, so our interest was piqued. We got in touch with the lady herself.
Q: How were you led to the organisation of this event?
Two years ago I did an instrumental concert at the Indian Cultural Centre featuring Tamil music – experimenting on the piano. Gauging the audience’s reaction, I figured it was successful and most importantly I enjoyed working for it.
Also being a Tamil and studying in Tamil till my Ordinary Levels, for all Tamil days in school I remember playing the keyboard for some Tamil songs, which were incidentally that of the Indian film music composer Ilaiyaraja. Hence it was only apt that I revisited this same composer years later.
Q: What is different the music in this concert when compared to the usual type of music found in your concerts?
Music is universal and it can cut through all barriers, so in that sense it is the same soul-stirring music regardless of the genre. But of course I am associated with classical music and choirs so in that sense it is very different to the likes of Beethoven and Mozart and choral music. However, again, those who have heard songs of both Ilaiyaraja and A.R. Rahman would notice the heavy western classical music influence in their compositions. So what would be different is the music I am playing. It would still be me at the piano backed by some amazing musicians and some fresh new voices.
Q: On the topic of your concerts with Soul Sounds, how do you organise and train the singers to perform to their very best capabilities for each concert?
Those who know me know that I am essentially a pianist, but after being exposed to playing for many singers when I was studying music in London, it was only natural that I trained the HFC (Holy Family Convent) choir on my return and later founded Soul Sounds. So the way I train is very different from the traditional way of training – whilst I inculcate the basics on technique and vocal production, I love to discover talent and help them nurture and harness the unique voice each one is blessed with, and together as a choir make music.
Each Soul Sounds concert is different so I pick voices for solos according to what suits them best. The girls and I collectively choose repertoire, etc. that would bring out the best in Soul Sounds.
Q: What kinds of different training did you go through for Kaadhalil?
“Kaadhalil” – the name itself is the name of my original song sung by upcoming singer Megan Dhakshini, who is someone I discovered and worked with. I liked the innocence and the freshness of her voice.
Also, we called for open auditions and chose three unique male voices. The musicians too are a mix of eastern and western musicians, so all in all it’s been a collaborative effort and working together has been a great experience.
Q: Do you believe that a true musician should be an adherer to all types of music, or do you think that they should specialize in a certain genre?
This is really a subjective question and who am I to judge? I admire great musicians who have specialised in one genre and that doesn’t make them any lesser than those who are versatile enough to explore all genres of music. But I personally would feel that a true musician should be able to appreciate all forms of music – within this, you can of course have your own preferences.
What instruments besides vocals and piano are the most common during your performances? If there are any specific ones, is it because you feel akin to it? You are a pianist, but is this always the most important instrument on stage?
Well, the basic accompaniment would be piano for my performances, then drums. And of late I like to experiment with traditional drums as well. Then of course there is guitar and bass. Of course, for the more classical works an orchestra of musicians especially a string section would be the best.
Q: What can we expect from Kaadhalil?
Firstly, some soul-stirring hits of the composers Ilaiyaraja and A.R. Rahman as well as some of the other music directors of the Tamil cine industry. Secondly, expect some unique arrangements of music and medleys put together to bring back memories. Also expect a live performance of my original Kaadhalil and finally a great band of musicians and some fresh talented voices.
Q: Will these kinds of personal performances be more regular, or is this taking place just this once?
Right now I’m doing this purely for the love of music and the challenge of taking something new on, in terms of music. Let’s see!
Q: What is the most daunting thing about performing without the rest of Soul Sounds? Surely, it wouldn’t be too scary considering your expertise, but what would be a big difference?
This is not a choral concert and the repertoire is very different, but that being said some of my Soul Sounds junior singers and a few girls from my academy (Soul Sounds Academy) intermediate choir are also singing as backing chorus … so, yes there would be choral representation in that sense.
Tickets to this exciting event can be found at the Bishop’s College Auditorium, Soul Sounds Academy, and online on www.tickets.lk. They are priced at Rs. 3,000, Rs. 2,000, Rs.1,500, and Rs.1,000 (balcony).