OF SONGS & SYMPHONIES
Johann Peiris is hailed for his laudable skills in seamlessly crossing traditional boundaries within genres of music and his practice, ranging from chamber to classical. His fingers are agile as they dance across the piano keys, landing first on ivory then gliding to ebony. Sporadically, the sharp tap of a staccato note or a graceful leap punctuates the smooth movement of his frolicking phalanges as Johann jumps octaves. As a chamber musician, the artist has performed in Europe as part of the Vianden Chamber Music Festival and has also been involved with the Summer Voice Festival at the Manhattan School of Music as a collaborative pianist, choral singer with Colombo Philharmonic Choir, Young New Yorker’s Chorus and NYU chamber choir. Johann was instrumental in co-founding Harmonic Conspiracies series for chamber music, outside the concert hall and supports the Young Musician at the Wendt series as the artistic director. We celebrate Johann as ARTRA’s Emerging Artist Best of 2020 for his multifaceted approach to performance art of which the perennial environment of musicality and perpetual interaction of creative synergies facilitate his inherent background in music.
Johann Peiris obtained his Bachelors and Masters in Sociology at Ithaca College, NY where he also minored in Music and found himself maturing in the musical arts by being constantly surrounded by exceptional musicians. He has collaborated on many performances including productions of Cinderella with Theatre Junction, as a music director for StageLight&Magic’s ‘Fun Home’ as well as ‘Rent’, a forthcoming production. Johann has performed with Robin Meier’s musical installation ‘Collective Feeding’ 2019 at the art festival Colomboscope, and has had solo appearances with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka and the Chamber Music Society of Colombo.
Johann is recognized for his ability to move across a distinct spectrum of musical fields and conscientious attention to technical detail. His musical direction of ‘Fun Home’ engages with a narrative that is contemporary and progressive. The artist’s direction portrayed a collocation of identities in music, as it functioned as the incentive that brought the characters and their complex stories to life. “‘Fun Home’ in particular was a fresh musical, dealing with very real and relatable circumstances of family relationships and a coming of age story which was based on a graphic memoir. And as a music director and conductor, it was my prerogative to make the characters come alive through their authentic selves, with the backing instruments as well. I think I derived most pleasure by being an integral part of the band which always had to respond to the actors, while also providing sufficient support and atmospheric impetus. It was a brave production given its topic and the obscure title meant the halls weren’t at capacity. The fact that aspects of female sexuality are rarely spoken of, let alone represented in theatre meant that audiences were confronted with something uncomfortable yet very real,” said the artist. Johann’s direction through which the musical transpired, allowed the story to be understood in its authenticity as it fell into tune with each note.
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