The Choir has been an integral part of the school since its inception, owing mainly to the fact that this is a Christian School, and as such, the services that were conducted in school needed to be led by a group of boys from within its own walls. Thus, in the early days, the Choir would come together solely for the purpose of leading these very many services that were held at Prep School, ranging from regular services to more special occasions such as the blessing of new buildings. 1941 is recognised as one such memorable year that required the Choir to sing at the blessing of the J.L.D. Pieris block, and at many other functions which the Bishop of Colombo attended.
Even from the most junior class, music was given a prominent place within the structure of the curriculum at Prep School. The introduction of the Exhibition of Children’s Work and Entertainment in 1939 hosted by the Kindergarten section that was under Ms. Mary Karunaratne is evidence to this. This event provided the boys with a unique opportunity to get on stage and share their talents with the student body as well as with their eager parents, who would rush in to get a glimpse of their young boys. Many other similar opportunities were later introduced through events such as the Parents’ Day, Variety Entertainment Concerts, End of Term Concerts, etc. During this initial period, the boys received instruction from a very able pioneer of Prep School, Miss. L.A.L. Blanchard, who brought in music to almost every facet of Prep school life. Not only did she compose the School Song in 1939, the School Hymn, the Scout’s Song in 1941, the Victor’s Song in 1939 and the Boarder’s Song 1939, but also required all the little boarders who were under her care to march into the dining hall to the tunes of a variety of pieces that she would play on the piano at the start of each meal.
It was only around two years after the arrival of Mrs. Keble, and the moving of the Prep School up to Bandarawela due to WWII, that the school saw the introduction of an official Musical Society and Glee Club which provided the boys with a structured platform to enhance their talents on a regular basis. The first Glee Club report from 1942 states that “Every Sunday evening, Mrs. Keble invites some boys to her room to listen to records and to sing songs and rounds. She lights a fire in her room, and we roast peanuts to eat, while we listen to the music. It is very kind of her to invite boys to her private quarters to listen to her own records. We all appreciate it very much. We all wish that the Glee Club, and Musical Society, will prosper in years to come.” Thus, it is safe to say that the Choir grew into the activity that it is today thanks to this venture.
The dedication of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd in 1957 brought in many more opportunity for the school Choir to involve itself in, especially as an annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols was introduced in December that year. From then on, the Choir is seen to grow from strength to strength, as they learn to sing in English, Sinhala and Tamil for the first time in 1967 and then proceed to perform in 4 part harmony by 1975.
In 1987, the School Choir took part in the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Mr. Lyn A. Dassanaike, presented a Cantata at the Wesley College Annual Festival of Dramatised Ballads in March and participated with Ladies’ College at the wedding of Chantel Obeysekera in May. By 1990, Guitars and Recorders were added as an accompaniment to the School Choir for morning Hymns at the Chapel. In 1991, a group of boys formed a ‘Beat Group’ performing at the Annual SCM get together, showing initiative and enthusiasm from the students towards furthering their own musical journeys. The Choir has also actively participated in the annual “Festival of Choirs” organised by the Ceylon Bible Society. In 1987, the Choir took part in the 175th Anniversary Concert of the Ceylon Bible Society ‘Festival Of Song’ and consistently continued to be part of this event from 1999-2013, though scattered participation prior to 1999 is mentioned. The Choir would also participate at many S.C.M. events organised by schools such as S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, Ladies’ College, and Wesley College. The concept of ‘Choir Leader’ was introduced in the year 2000 under the tutelage of Mrs. B. Weeratunga.
2016 saw the introduction of the Past Prepites’ Choir, which stepped on stage for the very first time at the Primary School concert titled ‘Broadway Comes Alive!’ Thereafter, there was no turning back, and the group continued to extend their support to almost all major school functions.
In 2016 the School Choir produced a recording of the School Song to be used for official functions, and in 2017 created a video to go accompany this recording. However, in 2020, the original music for the School Song was discovered and thus the Choir re-entered the studio for the purpose of ensuring that the integrity of the original music and lyrics were safe guarded. This re-recorded version was once again fused with the original video that was shot in 2017 and released on the 25th of January 2021.
In 2018 the School Choir organised their own concert, ‘I Will Follow, I Will Lead’ bringing together the S. Thomas’ Family of Schools onto one stage, alongside some Invitee Schools from Colombo. This was followed by the production ‘Be More Kind’ which was produced by three old boys and past choristers namely Pasan Ranaweera, Lihan Mendis and Sachi Gamage. The School Choir recorded their first music video, a mashup of “Lean On, Sansara Sihine and Thee Thee” in 2018.
The Primary Choir, which was re-commenced in September, 2019, is made up of students from grades 3, 4 and 5. The first time this iteration of the Primary Choir performed in school was for our former Primary School Sectional Head, Mrs. Maalika De Silva’s farewell in 2019. The choristers sang a special hymn during the programme organised for her. In 2019, they also performed a special item during the collection of gifts at the Nativity programme “The Singing Christmas Tree” organised by the Primary section, making this performance their public debut.
Both Choirs maintain the high standards that have been set by the Founders of this school and only hope to grow the number and variety of activities that they provide their students within the years to come.
The Senior Choir meets every Monday and Wednesday from 2-4pm at the School Chapel for their rehearsals. Rehearsals are mandatory and 3 strikes on unexcused absences may result in the chorister being removed from the activity. In addition to weekly rehearsals, the choristers are engaged in a multitude of activities that are carefully curated in order to impart upon them the importance of life skills and empathy, two facets that we see lacking in the modern world. These activities are not optional! In the case of online school, rehearsals are scheduled depending on schooling hours and would be relayed accordingly.
Primary Choir practices are conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7.30am to 8.15am in the Chapel or the Dining Hall, by the Teachers-In-Charge themselves.
The Master-In-Charge of the Senior Choir is Mr. Saranga Wickramage. The Teachers-In-Charge of the Primary Choir are Ms. Menaka Edema and Ms. Sharala Ferdinandez (accompanist).