By Colombo Telegraph –
Dr. Tanya Ekanayaka, one of Sri Lanka’s most distinguished classically trained pianists, a composer, musicologist, improvisor and linguist performs for the ‘Senses and Soul Colombo Music Festival’ in Sri Lanka on 24th August at the Water’s Edge Ballroom at 6pm.
“Tanya Ekanayaka is a musician of rare accomplishment. Her pianism is fresh and powerful, technically assured and emotionally persuasive. As a composer she has the ability to synthesise her inter-cultural experience to create music that is original and compelling. In an age when the composer-pianist seems like a moment from the past, Tanya Ekanayaka shows us the potential of such a complete musicianship.”
Professor Peter Nelson Head, Department of Music, University of Edinburgh, UK.
“Tanya Ekanayaka’s music is subtle, beautiful and surprising. Whereas many Asian composers like, say, Takemitsu or Tan Dun, have arrived in European concert halls through a combination of international modernism and carefully crafted encounters with Asian folk and classical music, Tanya has travelled in precisely the opposite direction. Her starting point is in her experience as a pianist playing music of Western serious music tradition, and in particular the mid-Romantic repertoire. It is after a long journey through the rich language of mature Western tonality that she eventually reaches, along a purely instinctive and intuitive path, the popular melodies and hymns of her native Sri Lanka. It is through the arpeggios, embellishments and filigree of the language of Chopin and Liszt that she approaches the graceful ornamentation of her cultural tradition: the circles and slender pillars of the Polonnaruwa vatadage; the colourful costumes, movements and rhythms of Ves or Naiyandi dances.”
Professor Nigel Osborne MBE, FRCM – Reid Professor of Music, University of Edinburgh, UK.
Dr. Ekanayaka has given solo piano recitals in world renowned concert halls in Europe and the United States and is currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland where she is a member of staff of the University of Edinburgh. In July 2010, Dr. Ekanayaka became the first Sri Lankan pianist to perform in the ‘Pianists of the World’ series at London’s St Martin-in-the-Fields one of the oldest recital series of St Martin-in-the-Fields having been founded by the legendary Dame Myra Hess. The audience at this concert was reportedly among the largest audiences recorded at lunchtime concerts at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Dr. Ekanayaka’s programme concluded with the world première of her composition ‘Adahas: of Wings of Roots’ which was the first Sri Lankan composition to be performed at this venue. This composition is an example of the distinguishing feature of Dr. Ekanayaka’s recitals. She is also a festival adjudicator and has served on the international panel of adjudicators at one of the world’s biggest music festivals, the ‘Hong Kong Schools Music and Speech Festival’. She adjudicated the piano division of this festival in 2011.
What characterizes Dr. Ekanayaka as a recitalist is her quintessential recital style. Her recitals have increasingly included her own compositions representing a novel form of musical fusion as well as works from the established classical repertoire ranging from baroque to contemporary works. Her compositions within a recital programme tend to self-consciously adapt indigenous and popular Sri Lankan folk melodies which are then reinterpreted, transformed and integrated within musical frameworks inspired by the western classical works of the same programme. Dr. Ekanayaka regards her compositions as deeply autobiographical ‘moments’. She attributes her compositional style to her multilingual and multicultural backgrounds as well as to being ambidextrous and having partial colour synesthesia. In Sri Lanka, Dr. Ekanayaka studied the piano under the tutelage of her mother Indira Ekanayaka and later with Bridget Halpé.
Among other recitals, 2012 has seen Dr. Ekanayaka debut in the USA with a solo recital at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC (USA) following an invitation by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and a performance at the Asia Society Concert Hall in New York. Performing to a full house (the audience reportedly among the largest observed at this particular concert stage), Dr. Ekanayaka’s programme for her recital at the Kennedy Center incorporated the world première of two of her own compositions, ‘Labyrinth; Vannam Lent’ and ‘Dhaivaya: Alter(ing) Hue’ which are the first compositions for the piano by a Sri Lankan composer to be performed at this venue. The Kennedy Center had a live internet broadcast of Dr. Ekanayaka’s recital which is now archived on the Kennedy Center website
The link to recording is also available on the Performances page of Dr. Ekanayaka’s personal website, http://www.tanyaekanayaka.com/performances.html
She has since been invited back to give another solo recital at London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields and looks forward to doing so in November this year following recitals in Colombo and Hong Kong.
For further information about Dr. Tanya Ekanayaka, please visit her website www.tanyaekanayaka.com