WMCE gets off the ground

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Giving the audience a sneak peek as to what it’s going to be like on 24 July at the Lionel Wendt at 7.00 p.m., when the show proper goes on the Boards, as the World Muslim Choral Ensemble (WMCE) Ambassadors for Peace in Colombo set the pace when choristers and instrumentalists from India, Iran, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (USA too will be represented at the main event but could not make it to this event due to travel constraints) sang the nasheeds.

The event opened with the beautiful recital of Sura Noor by one of the choristers while another translated it, giving the non-Muslim audience an opportunity to understand and assimilate the meaning of the Sura.

Ganganath Warakagoda in his inimitable style inaugurated the WMCE by blowing the trumpet in traditional Sri Lankan fashion giving the event a local touch. The Muslim Choral Ensemble (MCE) translated itself into the WMCE with this inauguration. The haunting music and the sonorous sound of the tambourine accompanying the singing of the choristers was indeed unforgettable. It turned the venue, the Ishq, down Alfred Place alight.  The WMCE breathes new life into and interest in the genre, but also encourages and nurtures budding choral talent with a passion for Islamic choral tradition

WMCE has an international membership and envisages enlisting musical Ambassadors for Peace to collaborate and celebrate Islamic choral music traditions from around the world. This Peace Ensemble consists of both female and male artistes. Transcending borders, it encourages cross-cultural collaboration worldwide to reach its goals, with participation open to not only Muslims but also non-Muslims with a passion for the genre.

Their repertoire will largely embrace Islamic spirituals including Nasheeds, Qasidas and Naats, styles connected to South Asia. It is planned as an annual event, to grow globally in order to link more Islamic devotional music traditions from diverse regions across the world.

WMCE is the brainchild of Haadia Galely (Executive Director) and ethnomusicologist Prof. Andre de Quadros (Artistic Director). The MCE, under which the WMCE falls, was co-founded by Ms. Galely and Professor de Quadros, in August 2017 as a platform for Muslims in Sri Lanka who have a passion for Islamic choral singing. Behind MCE has been their vocal Coach Manoj Sanjeewa who has dedicated himself to training members from its inception.

WMCE will also demonstrate the unique strength of music as an ambassador for peace. Over the past five years, MCE has extended its vision beyond the performing arts to include peace building by participating in joint performances with choral ensembles of other traditions such as the Yale Alumni Choir at the Yale International Choral Festival in 2018, and with the Philippines Singing Ambassadors in a church at the International London Music Festival in London in 2019. MCE also initiated and participated in Voices for Peace, an interfaith concert featuring a diversity of performers of all Sri Lankan communities in the aftermath of the Easter bombings made possible together with their hospitality partners Shangri-La Hotel since 2019, and in the next in February 2022 at the same venue, in unison with Buddhist, Christian, Hindu choral ensembles at Shangri-La Hotel in February 2022. As a result, MCE is today recognised as an ensemble of peace makers.

Similarly, WMCE choristers and instrumentalists will continue to embrace unity in diversity by acting as Ambassadors for Peace. Choristers and performers from around the world who become part of the WMCE will commit to serve, celebrate, and use their voices and music for peace building

Unfortunately, due to the current crisis in Sri Lanka, the WMCE are unable to undertake outreach programs as planned at social welfare institutions that were on their residency programs

“The WMCE forges a path to peace by gathering choristers and instrumentalists from across the world to participate in this celebration of Islamic selection. These Ambassadors for Peace of the World Muslim Choral Ensemble are committed to performing devotional repertoire found within the Islamic faith, which spans more than a millennium and is found amidst the rich Cultural and Heritage of Muslim communities across the world,” says WMCE Executive Director Haadia Galely.

“With this performance, WMCE will take off from Sri Lanka and move across the world. It is an endeavor is not for profit but for peace. We are in the performing arts, but beyond the performing arts. There is so much that we are fighting for in this conflicted world … WMCE focuses on the end result: peace.”

For more information, please contact: +94 77 7369 400