Dr. Tanya Ekanayaka one of Sri Lanka’s distinguished classically trained pianists, also a composer, musicologist and linguist debuts at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC with a solo piano recital on 31st May. The recital is a result of an invitation extended to her by the center.
What characterizes Tanya 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. In this sense, Tanya’s recitals become a discourse where the merging of genres and eras is facilitated – classical with popular and folk song, the historical with the contemporary. As such, her work may be seen as transgressing and in so doing conflating the borders of temporality’.
Tanya 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 synaesthesia. Her recent compositions have also been influenced by her interdisciplinary doctoral research which addressed questions relating to whether there are differences between communities’ collective perception of language in particular language mixing in music (i.e. songs) and their perception of language and/or language mixing in non-musical environments. Having discovered interesting differences between them her research included the formulation of a theoretical model designed to explain the differences.
Tanya began studying the piano when she was just five years old, made her debut public recital appearance at the age of twelve and has since performed widely as soloist, accompanist and in ensembles both internationally and in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, Tanya studied the piano under her mother Indira and later with Bridget Halpe. Consistent with her interdisciplinary background, Tanya holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Honours degree in English Literature and Linguistics from the University of Peradeniya, a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Linguistics and English Language from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and a doctorate for interdisciplinary research involving the disciplines of Linguistics and Musicology also from Edinburgh University. She is also a Fellow of the Trinity College of Music London (FTCL), and a Licentiate of both the Associated Board of The Royal Schools of Music (LRSM), and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (LGSMD) UK. The Guildhall school awarded her its Professional Performer’s Diploma (PPD) in 1999. Tanya was appointed a member of the academic staff of the University of Peradeniya in 2003 shortly after graduating with her Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in the same year. She was a member of the university’s academic staff as Assistant Lecturer in Linguistics and subsequently as Lecturer in Linguistics in the Department of English (Literature and Linguistics) from 2003 to 2005 and 2005 to 2011 respectively. Tanya is currently on the staff of Edinburgh University in Scotland where she has been teaching part-time in both its Departments of Linguistics and Music since 2007.
In July 2010, Tanya became the first Sri Lankan to perform in the ‘Pianists of the World’ series at the world-renowned international recital venue, St Martin-in-the-Fields, in London. Founded by the legendary Dame Myra Hess, this is one of the longest running recital series at this concert venue. The audience at this concert was reportedly among the largest recorded at lunchtime concerts at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Tanya’s programme included the world première of Tanya’s own composition ‘Adahas: of Wings of Roots’ which was the first Sri Lankan composition to be performed at St Martin-in-the-Fields. This composition is an example of the distinguishing feature of Tanya’s recitals.
Tanya’s recital at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will be followed by a performance at the Asia Society in New York and solo recitals in Colombo, Hong Kong, and London as well as at the Reid Concert Hall in Edinburgh as part of the University of Edinburgh Recital Series. She is also scheduled to make an appearance with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka (SOSL) where she will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3 in C Minor, Op. 37 under the baton of Japanese conductor Keiko Kobayashi.
Notably, Tanya’s programme for her recital at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts includes works by J. S Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Khachaturian and also incorporates the world première of two of her own compositions ‘Labyrinth; Vannam Lent’ and ‘Dhaivaya: Alter(ing) Hue’ which will be the first compositions for the piano by a Sri Lankan to be performed at this venue. The recital which lasts one hour commencing at 22.00 GMT will be broadcast live on the web by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Further information is available on Tanya’s website www.tanyaekanayaka.com and on the official website of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Piano Solo recital – The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington DC, USA
‘Millennium Stage’, 31st May 2012, 18:00-19:00
Entrance – Free