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Looking Forward With Arts – Q&A With Sanchitha

The Sooriya Village is an idea birthed from the legendary “Sooriya” label, the pioneer in producing popular music in Sri Lanka during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Today, the Sooriya brand once again enters the industry not only to aid musicians but artists of all forms to help nurture and promote their creations through the facility’s versatile resources. Read more about Sooriya Village here.

IVolunteer International was humbled and honored to partner up with Sanchitha Wickremesooriya (Founder & CEO) and the management team at Sooriya Village for its grand opening ceremony. We managed a group of very energetic, art-loving volunteers to assist with various tasks of the event. We witnessed an enormously successful opening of Sooriya Village and we are proud to say that we were able to contribute to such an initiative, in support for the artists in Sri Lanka.

Today, we were able to get in touch with Sanchitha for a Q&A session. It was very interesting to go through his memory lane to understand how his high school (Royal College) experience and his passion positively contributed to being who he is, today.

  • Sanchitha, tell us a bit about yourself

Well, I’m 24 years right now and I completed my undergraduate degree in Music Business & Entrepreneurship from the United States. It was initially a four years degree, but I was able to fast-track it and finish it within 2 and a half years. Music has always been my deep passion and I knew one day that this is what I wanted to do, so this is a dream come true.

  • What’s the history of the house that is now the “Sooriya Village?”

We owned this property since 2012. My mother used to operate a school for students with special needs in this very place. After some time, she moved to Canada, so using this space for the Sooriya Village made perfect sense.

  • What’s the relationship between you and music?

Very deep. I’ve been studying music since I was four and a half years old. My first teacher is Mary Anne David. She has a room dedicated in her name in Sooriya Village for my gratitude to her. I learned to play the piano from Mrs. Mithrani Smith. I must also remember Dayan Fernando, Priyanthi Fernando and Surekha Ameresinghe at this time who also helped enhance my music knowledge.

  • How did Royal College contribute to your passion?

“The time I spent at Royal College are the best days of my life. I still want to go back and re-live those memories. I was the Deputy Head Prefect of Royal College. Royal College let me experience a lot of things and I believe it had a very positive impact in my life. Royal College is a place where you have the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich living together under one title (Royalist), being treated the same. That’s the beauty of it. Royal College played a big part in nurturing and making me who I am today.”

  • Western or Oriental Music – What’s your preference?

I was always into Western Music. I learned a bit about Oriental Music and instruments but it didn’t stick with me as well.

  • How did your perform in your academics?

I didn’t do that well at academics in school. I’d say I was the average student. I was the chairman of the Western Music Society, chairman of the Student Catholic Movement, played Waterpolo, and did swimming. I did everything I could lay my hands on actually. But I didn’t fail in anything. I tried to keep a good balance. Music was always my passion and hobby. I sang in the college choir as well and I loved it.

  • How was College life?

I actually did much better in academics in college than I did in school. I graduated with a 3.98 GPA out of 4.0 and graduated with highest honors. It was pretty good. I had a lot of focus.

  • Your first performance?

My first performance was when I was five years old. The performance was at Lionel Wendt at a Mary Anne David’s concert.

  • Your grandparents played a big role in this label. Tell us a bit about them

They initially only focused on books only. Then they bought records from a recording bar which was situated right next to us when they were closing the shop. Musicians such as Clarence, Super Golden Chimes and Nanda Malini (to name a few) started recording under this label. I believe this helped shaped our country’s pop music. 

  • Who can benefit out of Sooriya Village?

Sooriya Village isn’t made for musicians. It’s open to anyone. You could be a cook, a painter or sculpture artist it doesn’t matter. Anyone can come to the village and make the best out of it. Both amateurs and professionals are given ample opportunities here to grow and establish themselves. The best part is, you don’t have to have an avenue of performance to come here! You can bring family and friends to hang out at our restaurant!

  • Any comments about IVolunteer International?

I think that is a great concept. Something we need in our community. The volunteers were amazing. I’d like to use this opportunity to wholeheartedly thank them. They did a great job. I’m hoping to get in touch with IVolunteer International for upcoming projects they may be able to help.

For reservations and more information about the Sooriya Village visit www.thesooriyavillage.lk

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