History of the GMSC

The Gustav Mahler Society of Colombo (GMSC) was established on the 15th of June 2018, by four Sri Lankan musicians, Srimal Weerasinghe, Vidhurinda Samaraweera, Rachel Halliday and Amanda Halliday with the aim of creating a much-needed platform, for the development of Western Classical music in Sri Lanka.

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The founders rallied over 80 of Sri Lanka’s best musicians around the idea of performing and promoting Gustav Mahler’s music. The main event of the program was Urlicht from Mahler’s Symphony No.02 ‘Resurrection’ - Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. Adding to the repertoire was Sir Edward Elgar’s famous Enigma Variations. Sri Lanka’s foremost violinist, maestro Ananda Dabare agreed to lead the orchestra as its maiden concertmaster. The orchestra comprised musicians both young and old, from many communities and establishments. Rachel Halliday became the soloist for the Sri Lankan premiere of Mahler’s Urlicht and Gesellen Lieder. Mozart’s famous Overture to the Magic Flute opened the concert. The Principal and the Teacher-in-charge of Western Music of Royal College extended their generous support for the inauguration by providing rehearsal space and the Nawa Rangahala Hall for the concert. The concert was a landmark success which managed to captivate the audience and generate enthusiasm among the Sri Lankan musicians about Mahler’s music.

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Within a matter of months, the GMSC grew into being the foremost movement in Sri Lanka for the upliftment of Western Classical Orchestral Music and home to the largest orchestra in the island since its inception and went on to achieve great heights in the forthcoming years. The GMSC practices to feature compositions by Sri Lankan composers in its concert programmes every season. Not only restricted to performance, the GMSC is devoted to discovering new talent by providing equal opportunities for learning Western Music regardless of social divisions. Thus far, the GMSC has reached out to many people and institutions keen on learning orchestral music which led to the establishment of a branch in Galle (Southern Province, Sri Lanka) in 2019. Mr.Damith Ganhewa serves as the representative of that branch to date. In the same year, the GMSC Volunteers’ Circle was established and it comprises volunteers from Jaffna, Monaragala, Trincomalee, Kandy, Matara and Colombo. The musicians and friends of the GMSC are its pillars of strength to whom the society owes much of its success.

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