Colombo, Sri Lanka –
WOMAD (World of Music, Arts & Dance) and the Sri Lanka Tourist Board are
the local presenters of WOMAD Sri Lanka Festival of Drums. The event will take place from
Wednesday 21 until Sunday 25 September 2005 in the magical island setting of Sri
Lanka, with indoor and outdoor concerts and workshops in Colombo and special
acoustic performances in Kandy.
The Festival which was originally planned for the end of March has been
rescheduled to the new dates in view of the ongoing recovery process following
the Boxing Day Tsunami. Sri Lanka Tourist Board (SLTB) Chairman, Mr. Udaya Nanayakkara, said that a
major international festival of this kind needs to be held in a climate of total
“For the Festival of Drums to be a true bounce back celebration, we need to
ensure that we are showing our best face to the world again – with the guarantee
to provide the unique style of Sri Lankan hospitality we are famous for.”
“And, as this is the inaugural WOMAD Sri Lanka Festival of Drums, it is even
more important that we are fully recovered. This is primarily why we have
decided to present the Festival on the later dates of 21 – 25 September,” he
The festival program features both live performances and workshops from an
absolutely all-star line-up.
Cuba’s inventive and soulful seven–piece group Asere will collaborate with the
world’s number one drummer,
Cobham; and Bill will also be featured in solo
performance and master classes.
From central Africa, direct from Burundi, the
Drummers of Burundi bring their
compelling and ground-shaking rhythms for what will certainly be one of the
highlights of the whole festival.
From Asia, meditative Taiko drumming is brought to Sri Lanka by Japanese master
Hirota; and audiences will also be able to experience the deft mastery of the Chemirami
Zarb Trio from Iran.
The festival also features Colombia’s
La Momposina; improvisational beats from hot UK dance act The Bays; and many more
artists from all over the globe.
Sri Lanka will provide the most beguiling of settings for this great musical
feast. Some of the island’s most outstanding percussion and dance artists are
also contributing to this unique event designed to celebrate the WOMAD Festival
spirit. Classical Kandyan dancer and renowned boundary-breaking choreographer
Ravibandhu Vidyapathy will coordinate and direct performances of the percussion
and dance of Sri Lanka, bringing distinct drumming and dance traditions to the
festival, reflecting the huge cultural diversity to be found throughout the
“We are excited to share our unique Sri Lankan drum legacy with the world music
lovers. This ancient artistry, dating back over 2,500 years, is an intrinsic
part of our culture and heritage, and we are proud to have the opportunity to
showcase our own talents on the international stage,” said Mr Nanayakkara.
“WOMAD Sri Lanka Festival of Drums is one of the highlights of our tourism
calendar for 2005, and we look forward to this festival becoming a substantial,
signature event of our country over the coming years,” he added.
Mr Nanayakkara said the event is designed to become an annual event, and will
put Sri Lanka on the map among world music lovers internationally.
“A festival of this kind has the potential to attract music lovers from around
the globe, and once here, I am sure they will relish the opportunity to stay on
and take advantage of all that Sri Lanka has to offer. The WOMAD Sri Lanka
Festival of Drums will become the Sri Lankan equivalent to the famous
Glastonbury Festival.” he said.
The Chairman also stressed the importance of the Festival, not only to visitors
to the island, but to the Sri Lankan people.
“Music has a way of bringing people together, and unity is more important than
ever at this time,” he said.
The WOMAD organization was created in 1981 by a group of individuals including
the English singer and artist Peter Gabriel and Thomas Brooman, Artistic
Director of WOMAD. Since 1981, WOMAD has produced over 145 music events in more
than 22 countries, always aiming to offer audiences an insight into cultures
other than their own through the enjoyment of music.
“By showcasing performances drawn from different cultures, we hope that many
festival visitors will feel there is a global connection at work in these
rhythms, also the idea of a relationship with the natural world.”
“We are delighted to be given this opportunity to bring WOMAD and its unique
festival magic to the island of Sri Lanka. It is also exciting that this is the
first time in our twenty-two years of festival presentation that we’ve been able
to present a festival of drums. WOMAD hopes always to work as an agent of
discovery and as a gateway to the rich diversity of the world around us… we are
inspired by the opportunity to explore this cultural territory in the rich and
beautiful environment of Sri Lanka, ” said Mr Thomas Brooman, Artistic
“We are very proud to work with Sri Lanka Tourism in this positive way during
September and we sincerely hope that many of our established festival audience
will decide to visit this beautiful country as a result of the festival,” he
Flying the Festival Flags
In the WOMAD tradition, a celebratory set of Sri Lanka Festival Flags will be
created for the event.
This initiative – which will be known as the Sri Lankan Tourism Community
Project (working title) – will bring together local Sri Lankan visual artists in
collaboration with UK visual artist and flag-maker Angus Watt. The result will
be a unique installation of flags designed specially for the Festival field on
Galle Face Green.
Angus Watt’s wonderful shimmering silken ‘flag-scapes’ have featured at WOMAD
festivals all around the world. His work crosses traditional boundaries, using
colour, scale and movement to transform and enhance the theatricality of a
space. Responding to the elements, the flags become proud signifiers, gatherings
of texture and color, animated by wind and light.
Angus’ previous WOMAD collaborations include a project with the Aboriginal
Pitjantjatjara women of South Australia at the ‘WOMADelaide’ event, and his work
with the Sri Lankan artists is set to take him in an exciting new creative
Angus said: “Something very special seems to happen to the flags at WOMAD. When
the music starts, the undulating cloth and floating sounds seem to blend
together perfectly, taking us all on a wonderful journey, deep into the real
world of the senses!”
What’s Happening and Where?
Bishop’s College Auditorium, Colombo
Four indoor concerts will take place in this atmospheric theatre – each
evening’s performance featuring a selection of two artists drawn from the
festival programme. Provisional themes are: Wednesday 21 September, Welcome
Ceremony and Opening Concert; Thursday 22 September, Africa; Friday 23
September, Latin America; Saturday 24 September, Asia (matinee).
Colombo’s Galle Face Green will form the main outdoor area of the festival, with
two full evenings of performances on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September. This
lavishly decorated space will also feature a Global Village of crafts, textiles
and musical instruments, as well as an exciting selection of Sri Lankan, Asian
and other international cuisine.
Evening ‘club sessions’ will be held at The Gallery on Beira Lake, Colombo – an
informal meeting place throughout the festival period for audience and artists,
forming a unique venue for musical dialogue and exchange.
The festival will also offer participatory and close-up sessions, giving
opportunities to learn about the background and individual cultures of the
international artists at the festival. Workshop sessions held at The Gallery on
Beira Lake, Colombo will feature active opportunities to take part in both
drumming and dance.
The festival week will also feature one early evening, atmospheric acoustic
concert with two performances, on Thursday 22 September at Royal Peradeniya
Botanical Gardens in Kandy.
‘Access All Areas’ Tickets
‘Access All Areas’ tickets grant entry to all of the festival’s activities over
five days. AAA ticket holders will have priority entry to all of the festival’s
indoor theatre shows at Bishop’s College Auditorium, VIP access to late night
club sessions at the festival club hotel and priority listing for daytime
workshops and master classes. AAA tickets also grant access to a priority viewing
area at the outdoor weekend concerts.
Each AAA ticket holder will also receive a bumper WOMAD Sri Lanka goody bag – a
quality WOMAD canvas bag will contain: festival programme, special free CD,
tourist guide & map to Sri Lanka and of course the special AAA ticket pass.
Price: £80 each (approx. US $155, SL Rupee 16,000, Sing $252, Euros 116)
Available exclusively through www.womadshop.com while stocks last
Single Show Theatre Tickets
Advance tickets will also be available for each of the four theatre performances
at Bishop’s College Auditorium.
Price: £15 each (approx. US $29, SL Rupee 3,000, Sing $47, Euros 22)
Available exclusively through www.womadshop.com while stocks last
Full ticket details and festival updates are available at
For information on traveling to Sri Lanka go to
Author: World Music Central News Department
World music news from the editors at World Music Central