mobius British Council Tour of Sri Lanka and South India
December 2000

Have harp will travel!

Check-in is rarely smooth when you travel with a harp as excess baggage and last December several passengers on the Sri Lankan flight encountered a little more entertainment than they might have expected! My favourite

It was our good fortune to be travelling the day a BBC film crew was following Air Lanka around – any time there was a glitch in the proceedings the appearance of the camera smoothed all worries away! Look out for us on the

One of the great privileges of being a professional musician is that sometimes you get to travel to amazing places where you find extraordinary things. This was a week-long tour with mobius (four of us) during which we collaborated with Sri Lankan pianist Rohan de Silva, ran masterclasses in Western Classical music and led workshops with wonderful local musicians in Madras (Chennai), who gave us lessons in traditional Indian techniques. Our schedule was exhausting, inspiring and invigorating, with sight-seeing crammed into every available space between travelling, rehearsing, performing and teaching – oh, and the odd couple of hours spent at Customs!

The harp is a rare visitor to that part of the World and it was tremendous fun to introduce it to so many for the first time. There seems to be lots of interest in Western Classical Music and we enjoyed large audiences (c.700 in Colombo). I have long held the belief that good music well played speaks an International language, and it certainly held true on this tour.

December is a good time to go – it is pleasantly warm and a little humid, but not too extreme (always a concern when travelling with musical instruments).

Only 48 hours in Madras sadly, but how rich an experience. It is a vivid mosaic indeed: full of beautiful silk and cotton saris, carpets, crafts. Delicious fragrant foods and refreshing teas (saffron, lemon grass,

In Sri Lanka, precious moments were spent walking around ancient temple sights; amazing architectural feats and full of vivid colours, smells and sounds. 2000 year-old constructions built with incredible accuracy and full of potent symbolism. Elephants, kingfishers, egrets, green parakeets, swallows, storks, minah birds, cows, goats, monkeys (grey and macaques), snakes, bullfrogs, crickets, dogs, cats, glow worms, butterflies, bats (some enormous!), mosquitos. Miles of luminous rice fields, king palm coconuts, rain trees, sandalwood, hibiscus, lotus, jasmine, frangipangi

We made many new friends on this tour. Our thanks to them all for their generosity. Thanks also to the British Council for their splendid hospitality and the imagination to invite us, harp and all! I can

© 2000 Alison Nicholls - All rights reserved