Connect with us

Midweek Review

‘Brandix eruption’ close on the heels of Matara corona scare



Colombo Municipal Council Public Health Department personnel conducted random PCR tests at the Fort Railway Station, Monday, Oct 12. Pic by Kamal Bogoda

By Shamindra Ferdinando


Over a week before the coronavirus eruption at the Brandix apparel manufacturing facility, in Minuwangoda, a 52-year-old foreigner was tested positive, in Matara. He had been among the crew of an aircraft that arrived at the Mattala airport on Sept 13 and was moving freely, in Matara, before being quarantined at the Amaloh boutique resort, in Polhena, a popular tourist destination, minutes away from the town. The flight had touched down in India before flying to Mattala.

The President of the Public Health Inspectors’ Union of Sri Lanka, Upul Rohana, is on record as having said that local Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) or Medical Officers of Health (MOHs) were not told the crew was to be quarantined at Amaloh hotel. Rohana declared that the crew hadn’t been supervised by any PHI or MOH officers, in the area, since they were sent to the hotel, without alerting the relevant health officials.

The foreigner was tested positive, on Sept. 23, during the required second RT PCR test carried out by health authorities, before the departure of the crew. On arrival, airline crews are tested at the airport before being moved to a private hotel, until they leave. Before the day of their departure, they are subjected to RT PCR tests.

From that group of airline crew, two had taken a three-wheeler to an Arpico supermarket, on Sept 20, and to a Keells Super on or about the same day.

A subsequent RT PCR test, conducted at the Hambantota hospital, hadn’t shown the crew member to be infected with coronavirus. The first test on the foreigner had been carried out by a private hospital.

Although the foreigner had been later cleared, the Matara incident revealed the shortcomings in the system. How did those supposed to be staying indoors visit supermarkets? Did anyone bother to inquire into Public Health Inspectors’ allegations that they weren’t informed of the decision to move the airline crew to Amaloh hotel?

Russian Ambassador in Colombo, Yuri Borissovich Materiy, inquired from the writer about the Matara incident in the wake of the Sept 25th edition of The Island report, headlined ‘Covid-19 scare grips Matara as Russian crew member tests positive’ by Priyan de Silva. With the world battling coronavirus, a relevant foreign mission being interested in even an isolated case is not surprising.


Brandix crisis far worse than

Welisara cluster

The Matara scare was quickly forgotten. The Minuwangoda eruption, within days of that false scare, is continuing to cause quite a crisis. It is certainly far worse than what was called the Welisara Navy cluster that threatened to overwhelm the system during the first corona wave. While 950 officers and men, attached to the Welisara base, had been infected with the highly contagious virus, during a period of six weeks, beginning the third week of April 2020, the Brandix cluster has so far infected more than 1,200 within a week. The Gampaha hospital made the first detection on Oct 2 as a result of a routine RT PCR test done on 39-year-old supervisor, Pradeepa Sudarshini Ratnayake, when she was leaving the hospital. The mother of four was faulted for the crisis though quickly health authorities established the truth. She was not the first Brandix employee infected.

Health Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi, on Oct 4, told the media that the Brandix employee, tested positive at the Gampaha hospital, had been detected, thanks to a decision to test persons with fever/fever symptoms randomly at government hospitals. The government on Oct 4 imposed curfew in the Minuwangoda and Divulapitiya (Bomugammana) police areas, where the Brandix employee resides.

Later, it was revealed she had received medical treatment at a dispensary, near her home, at Bomugammana, on Sept. 28, after she fell ill at the factory. In an interview with Mawbima (Oct 11, 2020 edition) over the phone, the woman, who had been with Brandix for nine years, maintained over a dozen workers, attached to her section, fell sick on Sept 19-20 before she too got affected, a couple of days later. Those attached to her section, CM 23, had received treatment at the medical centre at Brandix before Pradeepa, too, received treatment at the same medical centre, on Sept. 27. On the following day, she received medical treatment at a dispensary, near her home. Mawbima quoted her as having said that in spite of the developing situation within the facility, none of them were directed to a government hospital until she demanded that she be taken to Gampaha, on September 30. She had even worked on September 30 though she was receiving treatment.

She was taken from the Brandix facility, to Gampaha hospital, on September 30, and released from hospital on the following day. By then, a substantial number of workers had been affected. Brandix, in its first statement, issued on Oct 4, placed the number of affected at 45, in addition to the person first tested positive. It meant at the time the first detection was made there were at least 45 others affected, within the facility.

Authorities haven’t been able yet to establish how the coronavirus eruption took place in Brandix. For nearly two weeks, the cause of the Brandix eruption remains a mystery. The Brandix eruption delivered a massive blow to the country’s struggling economy.

The Brandix crisis will further undermine Sri Lanka’s economy. There is no dispute over the contribution made by Brandix over the years to the national economy.


Indian HC, Brandix respond

to accusations

The writer, on Oct 7, morning raised growing accusations, with the Indian High Commission in Colombo, that Indian workers, employed by Brandix, at its Minuwangoda manufacturing facility, caused the crisis.

The Island asked whether the IHC had been aware of the number of Indian workers at Minuwangoda and whether they had arrived there this year. The IHC spokesperson, Neha Singh, said: “As far as our understanding goes all international arrivals are subjected to health protocols and procedures stipulated by the government of Sri Lanka in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Any question in this regard may be directed to concerned authorities.”

Due to the rapid deterioration of the situation, police headquarters on Oct 7 extended the curfew to over a dozen police areas in the Gampaha administrative district. The police brought Ganemulla, Kiridiwela,

Dompe, Malwathuhiripitiya, Mirigama, Nittambuwa, Pugoda, Weeragula, Weliweriya, Pallewala, Yakkala, Kandana, Ja–Ela and Seeduwa under curfew, in addition to the curfew imposed on Minuwangoda and Divulapitiya.

Brandix issued its first statement, as regards the corona attack, on Oct 4. The statement, headlined ‘Early detection of COVID-19 positive patient at Brandix facility in Minuwangoda declared: “The rigorous protocol implemented across Brandix, and the immediate response and support received from the PHI and relevant health authorities of Sri Lanka enabled the early detection of the patient, ensuring her timely transfer to IDH for immediate treatment and mitigation of any further spread of the virus.”

At the time of the issuance of the first statement, the number of Brandix affected was placed at 45, in addition to the first detected.

The media received the second Brandix statement on Oct 6. The company said that 1,394 Brandix employees at its Minuwangoda facility had been tested by Oct 5 and of them 567 confirmed as corona positive.


Three chartered flights,

341 persons return

The writer raised continuing concerns as regards developments at the Minuwangoda facility with Assad Omar, of Brandix, on Oct 7. Omar responded to issues raised by The Island while assuring a comprehensive statement would be issued during the day. It dealt with a number of issues, including accusations regarding the arrival of Indians, at the Brandix facility at Minuwangoda, in the run-up to the devastating corona eruption. Brandix denied allegations that foreigners, including Indians, had been to its Minuwangoda facility, under any circumstances. Brandix also denied claims that fabric, required by Brandix, had been brought from India, or accepted orders from its facility in India.

As regards those Sri Lankans employed in the Brandix facility, at Visakhapatnam, Andhara Pradesh, and their families returning to Sri Lanka in the recent past, the leading apparel manufacturer revealed that there had been three chartered flights from Visakhapatnam. Brandix assured all of them followed government stipulated procedures, including RT PCR testing and a 14-day mandatory quarantine at a government regulated quarantine facility, as well as the 14-day self-quarantine process, supervised by respective PHIs. Brandix further emphasized that none of those, who had returned from Andhra Pradesh, visited the Minuwangoda manufacturing facility.

The writer sought clarification from Brandix, on Oct 11, regarding a number of issues. The Island submitted the following questions to Brandix: “We received three media statements from you regarding the Covid-19 eruption. In the third statement, you mentioned the arrival of three flights from India carrying Sri Lankans and their families. Can you please provide (1) the dates flights arrived at the Mattala airport (2) the number of passengers on each flight (3) where were they quarantined for two weeks and (4) who supervised the remaining 14-day self-quarantine period? Brandix, in a statement issued the same day, while reiterating all protocols were followed, revealed that altogether 341 Sri Lankans, both workers and their families, returned on three chartered flights on June 25, August 8 and Sept.22. The flight that is causing a puzzle is UL 1159 that was expected to bring in 60 persons though only 48 arrived aboard it.

Brandix, in its fourth statement, said: “Upon completion of the 14-day mandatory period at a government regulated quarantine facility, a certification, signed by the Head of the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 and the Director General of Health Services has been issued to each individual confirming the same. The passengers of the first two flights then underwent the 14-day self-quarantine process under the supervision of the respective PHIs. A certificate confirming the completion of the self-quarantine process has been issued to each passenger of these two flights by the Office of the Medical Officer of Health for the respective area, which is signed off by the respective Public Health Inspector and the Medical Officer of Health. The 48 passengers that travelled to Sri Lanka on 22nd September 2020 are currently undergoing the 14-day self-quarantine process, under the supervision of the respective PHIs, and will be issued the same certificate upon completion of the process. The certificates regarding all passengers can be produced for verification to any Government authority investigating the matter.”

Brandix also said that the company continues to operate a quarantine centre provided by them in Punani, Batticaloa, during the COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year, which also presently houses employees, family members, and any others affected.

However, when Chathura Alwis interviewed Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, who heads the National Operation Centre for the Prevention of Covid-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), the Derana anchor said that the third contingent was accommodated at Sheraton hotel, Waskaduwa, where Durdens Hospital staff subjected them to RT PCR. Lt. Gen. Silva pointed out that contrary to reports that 60 returned on the Sept 22 flight, there were only 48. Did those who returned on June 25 and Aug 8, too, stay at Sheraton? Wouldn’t it be relevant to ask whether any of those who had returned from India were accommodated at the Punani facility before the corona eruption?

Perhaps, the most important line in the fourth Brandix statement is the following. The relevant section verbatim: “We are also thoroughly investigating any lapses in this regard and will share our learning and take the necessary action in the event of any violation.”

Subsequently, Brandix told The Island on Oct 12 (Monday) that those who had returned from India (three contingents) were accommodated at Sheraton Hotel, Kosgoda, and TI, Wadduwa, Long Beach Hotel, Koggala, and again Sheraton Hotel, Kosgoda, respectively.


Welisara Navy cluster

The second, far worse wave couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Sri Lanka, struggling to cope up with the unprecedented economic fallout. The government, too, should inquire into possible lapses on its part in line with overall measures meant to prevent further outbreaks. The Welisara corona cluster was caused by congestion, within the Navy base there, though it was conveniently blamed on heroin addicts of Suduwella. Those responsible suppressed severe congestion within the vital base that compelled the Navy to evacuate the base in the third week of May 2020, a month after the detection of the first infected sailor. Well over 2,000 officers and men had to be shifted to bases in various parts of the country, including the north. This was done in terms of instructions issued by the health authorities.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa categorized the Welisara cluster as a mistake when he addressed a group of officials. The coronavirus outbreak revealed the pathetic situation, within the base, where sailors were denied even basic facilities. They lacked sufficient bathroom and toilet facilities in addition to proper sleeping quarters. Even today, residents of Suduwella are blamed for what befell on the Welisara Navy base.

Against the backdrop of the recent Brandix eruption, some of those who had been accommodated at the Welisara Navy base were moved to other bases.


Indian poaching, smuggling

across Palk Straits

In spite of regular naval patrols, smuggling continues across the Palk Straits. Contacts between the Indians and Sri Lankan smugglers posed quite a threat against the backdrop of India reeling from corona cases. With over 7 mn cases reported so far, and the death toll at 109,150, by Oct 12, India is really struggling to bring the situation under control. Globally, the infections topped 37.3 million. Sri Lanka also placed some restrictions on its fishing community to prevent contacts with the Indians.

Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda announced restrictions following discussions at cabinet level, in this regard. The Navy continues to make regular detections in the seas off the northwestern province and northern districts. During recent talks between Indian leader Modi and Sri Lankan Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, the contentious issue of Indian poaching, too, has been taken up.

Amidst the corona crisis, a high level Chinese visit took place with the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) questioning the corona counter measures in place to check the visiting delegation. China provided some much needed relief with additional loans though the Sri Lanka economy remained at a critical point due to serious difficulties in meeting the country’s financial obligations. The Brandix eruption caused further deterioration, rather rapidly, with no end in sight. By Monday, Oct 12, the police had no option but to further expand restrictions as more cases were reported from various districts. Police headquarters placed several villages in Gampaha and Mannar under lockdown conditions. The crisis could have been avoided if basic protocols were followed. Brandix facility at Minuwangoda owed an explanation as regards the claim that workers began to fall sick as early as Sept. 19 -20 and Pradeepa Sudarshini Ratnayake received medical treatment on Sept. 27 within the factory premises. Explanation is also required whether those who had fallen sick reported to work from September 19-20 to Oct 4, when the government declared curfew in Minuwangoda and Divulapitiya areas, over 24 hours after Pradeepa Sudarshini Ratnayake was tested positive. If authorities talked to Pradeepa Sudarshini Ratnayake, 45 other workers tested positive (first Brandix statement issued on Oct 4) as well as the person in charge of the Brandix medical centre, they can easily establish when workers first complained of difficulties. When did Brandix Minuwangoda bring the situation to the notice of the MoH and PHIs? If supervisor Pradeepa Sudarshini Ratnayake’s still undisputed assertion that workers, in her section, fell sick on Sept 19-20, how can the failure on the part of those responsible to bring it, immediately to the notice of, health authorities be explained. According to Pradeepa Sudarshini Ratnayake even on Oct 30 she was taken to Gampaha hospital on her insistence.

Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), confirmed Pradeepa Sudarshini Ratnayake’s assertion that workers showed symptoms about a week before she was affected by it.

Appearing on Derana ‘360’, Monday night, the Army Chief told anchor Dilka Samanmali that about 10 workers had been infected before a worker was tested positive at the Gampaha hospital. Lt. Gen. Silva said that even if they disregarded a worker showing symptoms on Sept 15, now it was clear infections took place between Sept 10 and 20 with several cases reported on 20th. The Army Chief’s declaration brought to an end the despicable attempt made by some interested parties to blame the corona eruption on Pradeepa Sudarshini Ratnayake, on the basis of her having an illicit affair.

The primary question, the government needs a clear answer is exactly when the workers complained of fever and showed other symptoms? The answer will establish the culpability of those responsible for the devastating corona eruption.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Midweek Review

‘Professor of English Language Teaching’



It is a pleasure to be here today, when the University resumes postgraduate work in English and Education which we first embarked on over 20 years ago. The presence of a Professor on English Language Teaching from Kelaniya makes clear that the concept has now been mainstreamed, which is a cause for great satisfaction.

Twenty years ago, this was not the case. Our initiative was looked at askance, as indeed was the initiative which Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare engaged in as UGC Chairman to make degrees in English more widely available. Those were the days in which the three established Departments of English in the University system, at Peradeniya and Kelaniya and Colombo, were unbelievably conservative. Their contempt for his efforts made him turn to Sri Jayewardenepura, which did not even have a Department of English then and only offered it as one amongst three subjects for a General Degree.

Ironically, the most dogmatic defence of this exclusivity came from Colombo, where the pioneer in English teaching had been Prof. Chitra Wickramasuriya, whose expertise was, in fact, in English teaching. But her successor, when I tried to suggest reforms, told me proudly that their graduates could go on to do postgraduate degrees at Cambridge. I suppose that, for generations brought up on idolization of E. F. C. Ludowyke, that was the acme of intellectual achievement.

I should note that the sort of idealization of Ludowyke, the then academic establishment engaged in was unfair to a very broadminded man. It was the Kelaniya establishment that claimed that he ‘maintained high standards, but was rarefied and Eurocentric and had an inhibiting effect on creative writing’. This was quite preposterous coming from someone who removed all Sri Lankan and other post-colonial writing from an Advanced Level English syllabus. That syllabus, I should mention, began with Jacobean poetry about the cherry-cheeked charms of Englishwomen. And such a characterization of Ludowyke totally ignored his roots in Sri Lanka, his work in drama which helped Sarachchandra so much, and his writing including ‘Those Long Afternoons’, which I am delighted that a former Sabaragamuwa student, C K Jayanetti, hopes to resurrect.

I have gone at some length into the situation in the nineties because I notice that your syllabus includes in the very first semester study of ‘Paradigms in Sri Lankan English Education’. This is an excellent idea, something which we did not have in our long-ago syllabus. But that was perhaps understandable since there was little to study then except a history of increasing exclusivity, and a betrayal of the excuse for getting the additional funding those English Departments received. They claimed to be developing teachers of English for the nation; complete nonsense, since those who were knowledgeable about cherries ripening in a face were not likely to move to rural areas in Sri Lanka to teach English. It was left to the products of Aluwihare’s initiative to undertake that task.

Another absurdity of that period, which seems so far away now, was resistance to training for teaching within the university system. When I restarted English medium education in the state system in Sri Lanka, in 2001, and realized what an uphill struggle it was to find competent teachers, I wrote to all the universities asking that they introduce modules in teacher training. I met condign refusal from all except, I should note with continuing gratitude, from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, where Paru Nagasunderam introduced it for the external degree. When I started that degree, I had taken a leaf out of Kelaniya’s book and, in addition to English Literature and English Language, taught as two separate subjects given the language development needs of students, made the third subject Classics. But in time I realized that was not at all useful. Thankfully, that left a hole which ELT filled admirably at the turn of the century.

The title of your keynote speaker today, Professor of English Language Teaching, is clear evidence of how far we have come from those distant days, and how thankful we should be that a new generation of practical academics such as her and Dinali Fernando at Kelaniya, Chitra Jayatilleke and Madhubhashini Ratnayake at USJP and the lively lot at the Postgraduate Institute of English at the Open University are now making the running. I hope Sabaragamuwa under its current team will once again take its former place at the forefront of innovation.

To get back to your curriculum, I have been asked to teach for the paper on Advanced Reading and Writing in English. I worried about this at first since it is a very long time since I have taught, and I feel the old energy and enthusiasm are rapidly fading. But having seen the care with which the syllabus has been designed, I thought I should try to revive my flagging capabilities.

However, I have suggested that the university prescribe a textbook for this course since I think it is essential, if the rounded reading prescribed is to be done, that students should have ready access to a range of material. One of the reasons I began while at the British Council an intensive programme of publications was that students did not read round their texts. If a novel was prescribed, they read that novel and nothing more. If particular poems were prescribed, they read those poems and nothing more. This was especially damaging in the latter case since the more one read of any poet the more one understood what he was expressing.

Though given the short notice I could not prepare anything, I remembered a series of school textbooks I had been asked to prepare about 15 years ago by International Book House for what were termed international schools offering the local syllabus in the English medium. Obviously, the appalling textbooks produced by the Ministry of Education in those days for the rather primitive English syllabus were unsuitable for students with more advanced English. So, I put together more sophisticated readers which proved popular. I was heartened too by a very positive review of these by Dinali Fernando, now at Kelaniya, whose approach to students has always been both sympathetic and practical.

I hope then that, in addition to the texts from the book that I will discuss, students will read other texts in the book. In addition to poetry and fiction the book has texts on politics and history and law and international relations, about which one would hope postgraduate students would want some basic understanding.

Similarly, I do hope whoever teaches about Paradigms in English Education will prescribe a textbook so that students will understand more about what has been going on. Unfortunately, there has been little published about this but at least some students will I think benefit from my book on English and Education: In Search of Equity and Excellence? which Godage & Bros brought out in 2016. And then there was Lakmahal Justified: Taking English to the People, which came out in 2018, though that covers other topics too and only particular chapters will be relevant.

The former book is bulky but I believe it is entertaining as well. So, to conclude I will quote from it, to show what should not be done in Education and English. For instance, it is heartening that you are concerned with ‘social integration, co-existence and intercultural harmony’ and that you want to encourage ‘sensitivity towards different cultural and linguistic identities’. But for heaven’s sake do not do it as the NIE did several years ago in exaggerating differences. In those dark days, they produced textbooks which declared that ‘Muslims are better known as heavy eaters and have introduced many tasty dishes to the country. Watalappam and Buriani are some of these dishes. A distinguished feature of the Muslims is that they sit on the floor and eat food from a single plate to show their brotherhood. They eat string hoppers and hoppers for breakfast. They have rice and curry for lunch and dinner.’ The Sinhalese have ‘three hearty meals a day’ and ‘The ladies wear the saree with a difference and it is called the Kandyan saree’. Conversely, the Tamils ‘who live mainly in the northern and eastern provinces … speak the Tamil language with a heavy accent’ and ‘are a close-knit group with a heavy cultural background’’.

And for heaven’s sake do not train teachers by telling them that ‘Still the traditional ‘Transmission’ and the ‘Transaction’ roles are prevalent in the classroom. Due to the adverse standard of the school leavers, it has become necessary to develop the learning-teaching process. In the ‘Transmission’ role, the student is considered as someone who does not know anything and the teacher transmits knowledge to him or her. This inhibits the development of the student.

In the ‘Transaction’ role, the dialogue that the teacher starts with the students is the initial stage of this (whatever this might be). Thereafter, from the teacher to the class and from the class to the teacher, ideas flow and interaction between student-student too starts afterwards and turns into a dialogue. From known to unknown, simple to complex are initiated and for this to happen, the teacher starts questioning.

And while avoiding such tedious jargon, please make sure their command of the language is better than to produce sentences such as these, or what was seen in an English text, again thankfully several years ago:

Read the story …

Hello! We are going to the zoo. “Do you like to join us” asked Sylvia. “Sorry, I can’t I’m going to the library now. Anyway, have a nice time” bye.

So Syliva went to the zoo with her parents. At the entrance her father bought tickets. First, they went to see the monkeys

She looked at a monkey. It made a funny face and started swinging Sylvia shouted: “He is swinging look now it is hanging from its tail its marvellous”

“Monkey usually do that’

I do hope your students will not hang from their tails as these monkeys do.

Continue Reading

Midweek Review

Little known composers of classical super-hits



By Satyajith Andradi


Quite understandably, the world of classical music is dominated by the brand images of great composers. It is their compositions that we very often hear. Further, it is their life histories that we get to know. In fact, loads of information associated with great names starting with Beethoven, Bach and Mozart has become second nature to classical music aficionados. The classical music industry, comprising impresarios, music publishers, record companies, broadcasters, critics, and scholars, not to mention composers and performers, is largely responsible for this. However, it so happens that classical music lovers are from time to time pleasantly struck by the irresistible charm and beauty of classical pieces, the origins of which are little known, if not through and through obscure. Intriguingly, most of these musical gems happen to be classical super – hits. This article attempts to present some of these famous pieces and their little-known composers.


Pachelbel’s Canon in D

The highly popular piece known as Pachelbel’s Canon in D constitutes the first part of Johann Pachelbel’s ‘Canon and Gigue in D major for three violins and basso continuo’. The second part of the work, namely the gigue, is rarely performed. Pachelbel was a German organist and composer. He was born in Nuremburg in 1653, and was held in high esteem during his life time. He held many important musical posts including that of organist of the famed St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. He was the teacher of Bach’s elder brother Johann Christoph. Bach held Pachelbel in high regard, and used his compositions as models during his formative years as a composer. Pachelbel died in Nuremburg in 1706.

Pachelbel’s Canon in D is an intricate piece of contrapuntal music. The melodic phrases played by one voice are strictly imitated by the other voices. Whilst the basso continuo constitutes a basso ostinato, the other three voices subject the original tune to tasteful variation. Although the canon was written for three violins and continuo, its immense popularity has resulted in the adoption of the piece to numerous other combinations of instruments. The music is intensely soothing and uplifting. Understandingly, it is widely played at joyous functions such as weddings.


Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary

The hugely popular piece known as ‘Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary’ appeared originally as ‘ The Prince of Denmark’s March’ in Jeremiah Clarke’s book ‘ Choice lessons for the Harpsichord and Spinet’, which was published in 1700 ( Michael Kennedy; Oxford Dictionary of Music ). Sometimes, it has also been erroneously attributed to England’s greatest composer Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695 ) and called ‘Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary (Percy A. Scholes ; Oxford Companion to Music). This brilliant composition is often played at joyous occasions such as weddings and graduation ceremonies. Needless to say, it is a piece of processional music, par excellence. As its name suggests, it is probably best suited for solo trumpet and organ. However, it is often played for different combinations of instruments, with or without solo trumpet. It was composed by the English composer and organist Jeremiah Clarke.

Jeremiah Clarke was born in London in 1670. He was, like his elder contemporary Pachelbel, a musician of great repute during his time, and held important musical posts. He was the organist of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral and the composer of the Theatre Royal. He died in London in 1707 due to self – inflicted gun – shot injuries, supposedly resulting from a failed love affair.


Albinoni’s Adagio

The full title of the hugely famous piece known as ‘Albinoni’s Adagio’ is ‘Adagio for organ and strings in G minor’. However, due to its enormous popularity, the piece has been arranged for numerous combinations of instruments. It is also rendered as an organ solo. The composition, which epitomizes pathos, is structured as a chaconne with a brooding bass, which reminds of the inevitability and ever presence of death. Nonetheless, there is no trace of despondency in this ethereal music. On the contrary, its intense euphony transcends the feeling of death and calms the soul. The composition has been attributed to the Italian composer Tomaso Albinoni (1671 – 1750), who was a contemporary of Bach and Handel. However, the authorship of the work is shrouded in mystery. Michael Kennedy notes: “The popular Adagio for organ and strings in G minor owes very little to Albinoni, having been constructed from a MS fragment by the twentieth century Italian musicologist Remo Giazotto, whose copyright it is” (Michael Kennedy; Oxford Dictionary of Music).


Boccherini’s Minuet

The classical super-hit known as ‘Boccherini’s Minuet’ is quite different from ‘Albinoni’s Adagio’. It is a short piece of absolutely delightful music. It was composed by the Italian cellist and composer Luigi Boccherini. It belongs to his string quintet in E major, Op. 13, No. 5. However, due to its immense popularity, the minuet is performed on different combinations of instruments.

Boccherini was born in Lucca in 1743. He was a contemporary of Haydn and Mozart, and an elder contemporary of Beethoven. He was a prolific composer. His music shows considerable affinity to that of Haydn. He lived in Madrid for a considerable part of his life, and was attached to the royal court of Spain as a chamber composer. Boccherini died in poverty in Madrid in 1805.

Like numerous other souls, I have found immense joy by listening to popular classical pieces like Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary, Albinoni’s Adagio and Boccherini’s Minuet. They have often helped me to unwind and get over the stresses of daily life. Intriguingly, such music has also made me wonder how our world would have been if the likes of Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert had never lived. Surely, the world would have been immeasurably poorer without them. However, in all probability, we would have still had Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary, Albinoni’s Adagio, and Boccherini’s Minuet, to cheer us up and uplift our spirits.

Continue Reading

Midweek Review

The Tax Payer and the Tough



By Lynn Ockersz

The tax owed by him to Caesar,

Leaves our retiree aghast…

How is he to foot this bill,

With the few rupees,

He has scraped together over the months,

In a shrinking savings account,

While the fires in his crumbling hearth,

Come to a sputtering halt?

But in the suave villa next door,

Stands a hulk in shiny black and white,

Over a Member of the August House,

Keeping an eagle eye,

Lest the Rep of great renown,

Be besieged by petitioners,

Crying out for respite,

From worries in a hand-to-mouth life,

But this thought our retiree horrifies:

Aren’t his hard-earned rupees,

Merely fattening Caesar and his cohorts?

Continue Reading