Music and choral singing was an integral part of the daily life at Richmond as was in Christian Schools. Most missionary Principals of Richmond were good singers and musicians. They paid much attention to the formation of choirs. Concerts were regular features at the end of each term and staged just before the school closed for holidays and choral singing was always an item presented.
There appears no record of all the teachers who taught music at Richmond. Many of the staff members took upon themselves to train the choirs and were accomplished pianists and organists. One of the Principals stood so erect when conducting the choir he was nicknamed as “Polpitta”. It was widespread to identify students and teachers by nicknames. Not even the most feared teachers or Principals were spared. It was in jest people were nicknamed and not with malice although it made some people very angry.
This is not a comprehensive listing for want of further information about all others who were instrumental in promoting music and dancing at Richmond.
MR. W. H. SOLOMONS, B. A. (1886—1895)
Although singing and music was an integral part of school activities nothing of the period between 1814 and Mr. Solomon’s period are known. The earliest record is during Mr. Solomons time who was the third headmaster. He introduced singing in the School and formed a Musical Society of which he was the conductor. Mr. Solomons has been a very versatile personality (see Headmasters).
REV. J. H. DARRELL (1896 – 1906)
html css templates Mr. A. G. Nicholas (1896 – 1901) a member of the staff who was a poet of no mean repute has penned the lyrics of a song named “Winning the toss” for which music was composed by Rev. Darrell.
REV. ALEC A SNEATH, M.A. (1922 – 1939)
html css templatesMr. Sneath was a gifted singer. Boys of his period will vividly recall the erect figure of their Principal on the platform, baton in hand, training them in their school hymn. He used his rich tenor voice to advantage and at no time in her history did music and drama occupy such an important place in the life of the school. Of Singing he said: “Singing should occupy a high place in the school curriculum, for it is an outlet for emotional energy and provides valuable training in cooperative endeavour.”
Rev. Sneath earned a nick name synonymous with his posture because he would stand very erect which may have amused some of his students and perhaps he would have known that he had a nickname.
MAJOR A. F. DE SAA BANDARANAIKE (1916 – 1947)
html css templatesMajor A. F. de Saa Bandaranaike was a baritone.
MR A. HERBERT S KUENEMAN, B.D. (1931 – 1934)
hubertMr A. Herbert S Kueneman lived on the hill. It is on record that he was a great classical music lover and had exquisite taste in music. He had a gramophone and used to play the records he owned, mainly the Masters Beethoven, Mendelsohnn, Brahms, when the boarders retired to bed which lulled them to sleep.
He was a strong disciplinarian and anyone who was up to no good would be caned by him. During his time at Richmond he coached the choir with success. He was involved in Drama as well, producing many plays. The mechanical dimmer was procured by the college thanks Mr. Kueneman and this was the first dimmer that any school in Ceylon ever owned not even the University.
Herbert Keuneman was a journalist, teacher, and an Anglican priest. He travelled all over the country with his wife Doreen. It is said that his lifelong residence led to a passionate love for the island. There is (nor was) anyone with his encyclopaedic knowledge of the country in whatever the detail and in whichever the discipline.
MS. GRACE BARTHOLOMEUSZ (1946 – 1961)
html css templatesA young Burgher lady by the name Ms. Grace Bartholomeusz joined the staff in 1946 as Music teacher. Students from that bygone era would remember her travelling to school most times in a rickshaw a popular mode of travel then, from Galle Fort where she lived. In addition to her training the Junior and Senior Choirs she would assist Miss. Rita Kale of the kindergarten when she had no music classes.
She was a good kind lady although strict and immaculately dressed at all times.
MR. C. I. DE SILVA, B. A. (1957—1965)
html css templatesMr. Claude Ivor de Silva an old boy of the College was very much involved in music and choir and the Vice-Principal from 1957 until 1965.
MR. J. VINCENT M. GOONEWARDENA
html css templatesMr. J. Vincent Goonewardena was a fine singer and a musician as well. His two sisters Ida and Ruth both taught at Richmond. He taught English and was a choir master right throughout his career at Richmond.
MS. CHRISTINE WIKRAMANAYAKE (1962—1967)
html css templatesWith the retirement of Ms. Bartholomeusz Richmond had a new Music Teacher “Miss. Christine” as she was popularly known. At eighteen years, still a teenager, she was just fresh from School – the Sacred Heart Convent, Galle. She was selected by the Education Department after interviewing nearly twenty three aspiring applicants who were much older than her as she had better qualifications both Diplomas of the Trinity School and Royal School of Music a rare achievement especially at a such young age of eighteen. She was instrumental in providing the music in accompaniment for several of Mr. Sena Walawe’s Oriental Ballets staged at Richmond. Ms. Christine Wikramanayake left Richmond in 1967, yet identifies herself with Richmond in spite of having taught in many other schools.
She was the Chief Music Examiner for the Ministry of Education from 1985 to 1991. Having completed 30 years of service in government schools she took up an appointment with International Music Institute, Abu-Dhabi and was also the Administrator for the Associated Board Royal Schools of Music London Exams.
MS. KUSUMINIE KARUNANAYAKE (1977 – )
html css templatesMrs. Kusuminie Karunanayake (nee Kapuge) is a product of Southlands Girls School where she had her entire education. She joined the Richmond staff in 1977 as the music teacher. Her teaching career has spanned 34 years.
Mr. Ganagkadhara was the first Oriental Music teacher to join the staff although it is known that there were teachers who provided Singhala music during earlier times for stage plays.
MR. SENA WALAWE (MR. A. G. WALAWE)
html css templatesMr. Sena Walawe was the first professional dance teacher Richmond had. Quite an accomplished dance teacher he was a pupil of the famed Chitrasena of Chitrasena-Vajira School of Dancing.
“Karadiya” ballet is a creation of Chitrasena and has been performed in Sri Lanka and abroad many times in which Vajira wife of Chitrasena took the female lead, and Mr. Walawe the male lead. He re-enacted “Karadiya” the first musical ballet at Richmond in which he performed sans Vajira.