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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2706

Prof. Sanath Nandasiri Completes 50 Years As Distinguished Musician

By Dickson Hemantha, Clarksburg, Maryland, USA

Sanath Nandasiri, a professional artist who made an outstanding contribution during 1970s introducing a new era of Sri Lankan creative music, celebrates his Birthday on February 15th. This is the most appropriate occasion to ink this appreciation with great pleasure as an avid listener to his everlasting compositions not only because of his birthday but also on completion of his 50 years as a professional singer.

Sanath Nandasiri, a great singer, maestro, outstanding composer of innovative music and Professor of the University was born to the parents Mr William Perera and Mrs Dona Amalin Katugampola in the village of Gothatuwa, Colombo. He began his primary education at Gothatuwa Madya Maha Vidyalaya and later entered St.Mathews' College in Dematagoda, a starting point for artist to continue studies in English Medium.

He was 13 years of age when he had the opportunity of displaying singing talents in Lamapitiya, a very popular children evening program aired by the then Radio Ceylon now Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) . Not only had he displayed his talents and skills in singing but also in orchestral music as well. In 1958, he joined Government Music Institute which was later developed into a University. After 10 months, encouraged by his Guru in Music S.D.S.Jayasekera, he left for India in 1959 in his ambition to further his musical talents. Being the first student enrolled in 1958 by Guru D.R.Peiris, this future Virtuoso mastered his inborn skills in playing Tala Taranga (Tabla) before his tour to Bhathkande in Lucknow.

He joined Bhathkande University of Arts in Lucknow and learned under well renowned Indian musicians like Ustad Mokshut Ali and Pandit Hari Shankar Misra . He worked hard and mastered his degree in Singing and Orchestral Music. Achieving his ambitious goal he returned to Sri Lanka in 1964. Subsequently, on the results of the Vocal Music Exam he appeared in 1992, he was honored with Sangeeth Nipun title, the first Sri Lankan to have achieved such a distinguished excellence for musical brilliancy.

Direction of Music to a drama staged in Nugegoda during Vesak Celebrations was his musical debut in life. This event is historical at which milestone he met Malkanthi Peiris, the charming lady characterized by gracefulness and kindness whom he subsequently got married to.

It was in the mid part of 1960’s that Sanath appeared for an audition for classical music conducted by Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. Inspired by talents displayed at the audition, he was invited by P.Dunstan Silva who was a member of the Audition Board to sing in the ( Geetha Natakaya) story named "Navadeli Henaka" written in verse by Pandith Wimal Abeysundara and music composed by D. Dunstan Silva.

In recognition of his magnificent singing performance, this resonating golden voice of humbleness was honored by P.L.A.Somapala, the Head of Music Department of Commercial Service of the SLBC to disport his singing skills through Saralagee program, the golden key that opened the gate to reputation as a Maestro.

Three songs recorded in his first Saralagee Program Evilunu Ginidel, Mahada Pem Ville and Mihiravi of which lyrics were written by Bandara K.Wijetunga, made big favorite hits overnight. Since then as a Super Grade Radio Artist he has influenced the music fans with a large number of sweet songs of his own creation. 'Bo Maluwe, Adara Semarum, Eda meda tura, Mama nam asai, Senda kaluwara, Waradak kalath, Etha epita and Mage Ratata Dalada Himi sevanai" are a very few attractive innovations of his own that have been etched in the lasting memories of Sri Lankan fans both locally and abroad.

Sanath has composed a good number of creative favorite songs like Me Guru Pare ,Paya Seetha Reye ,Maha Wesaka for other artists as well.

Since he became highly popular within a very short period of time, he was offered Music Direction and Singing in silver screen in appreciation of his expertise in creative music. He entered in to Sinhala silver screen as a play back singer with Sedol Kandulu screened on 31st July, 1967. The song “Therak Ne Asha” of which lyrics were written by Henry Jayasena and music by Amaradewa for Sedol Kandulu film was his first contribution to Sinhala Cinema.

Subsequently he rose to the principle of its glory in playback singing behind the Silver Screen in Harimaga, Hanthane Kathawa, Samanala Kumario,Hathara Watte, Sihina Lowak , Ahas Gawwa, Dulika, Sagarika, Amaraniya Adare, Nedeyo, Pembara Madu,Vishmaya, Jeevana Kadulu, Higana Kolla, Vasanthaye Dawasak,Ajasatha, Senasuma, Kaarte Joe,Salabak Hadai, Salli Thibunata Madi, Indra Keelaya. His Golden Voice was used mostly behind Vijaya Kumaratunga, the sweetest film star ever produced in Sinhala Cinema. Historically it is significant that late Dharmadasa Walpola sang his last film song “Hithapu Dewal Kiyanna Berivi” a duet with Sanath in the film Hingana Kolla (1979) .

Exhibiting his excellent expertise in music, he gained the opportunity of directing music to a few movies on Silver Screen. His debut in direction of music was film Ajasaththa screened in 1981 followed by Thuththiri Mal (1983), Ranmalige Vasanawa (1984), Mihidum Salu (1985) and Kiwulegedara Mohottala (1987).
He also composed music for several teledramas including ‘Sandamalige Kathawa’ –
one of the first teledramas to be telecast on Rupavahini Television.

Ajantha Ranasinghe, one of the leading lyricists of our time wrote Uttama Munidalada for Sri Dalada Geetha Natakaya and a sweet melody was composed by Sanath as the Music Director. Special feature of great significance was Ajantha and Sanath by their influence were able to bring back Daharmadasa Walpola again to SLBC for recording of this historical song. The melody and the words of this devotional song highly favorite have gained the attraction of every household and will continue to remain etched in the lasting memories of the future generation as well.

Sanath won the Prestigious Sarasavi Award in 1988 and Presidential Award in 2001 for the best playback-singer in recognition of his grandiose performance for songs Vasana Weva in film Mangala Thegga and “ Sahodariyai Eya’’ in film Indra Keelaya respectively. This Great Musician Sanath is an ingenious writer who deserves honor for books as Sangeetanjalee, Ragalankaraya and Jeewithaye Chamathkaraya.

A Magnificent Musical Concert called Suwarna Kundala was performed in early 1970s by Sanath at the request of the music fans.

Sanath as a professional musician joined Music Faculty of the Kelaniya University of Visual and Performing Arts as a lecturer and rose to the heights of Dean of Music Faculty. He was glorified with Doctorate of Professor in tribute to his outshining excellence in his long career through five decades.

For the last 50 years, innovative composition of all his songs with meaningful literature have captured the admiration of people of the entire country. Acclaimed as a classical musician, his name will glow writ large in the history of Sri Lankan music as an outstanding personality who rendered an excellent contribution to build up creative music. The students who mastered their potential under his highly disciplined guidance are incredibly talented musicians. Sanath deserves great honor in respect of his inestimable dedication extended to the younger generation.

Married to Malkanthi in 1971, an adorable lady whose strength and support encouraged Sanath in his speedy elevation to the apex of Masterly performance in composition of music, the two singing couple has become a spectacle invades the living room of every Sri Lankan household in the country and Sri Lankan expatriates overseas.

Sanath Nandasiri and Malkanthi are an exemplary singing duo accredited with humble qualitiesof high reputation. Reputation is the opinion of the people. But character is what he really is.

Sanath is a gentleman par excellence. Paradise will be open to the people who live a righteous and noble way of life. On assumption of duties in the appointment as Dean of the Faculty of Music at the University of Visual & Performing Arts, Kelaniya, he has reached the zenith of its glory today. People who succeed speak well of themselves to themselves. I recall his visit to the United States made twice invited by Sri Lanka Ranga Kala Kavaya of Washington DC. It was a fascinating musical evening each time attended by a fully packed audience. No words can express the deafening applause came from the huge auditorium filled with the Sri Lankan community when the compere of the event announced the name of this Great Hero of indomitable voice. It is his practice of gratefulness to announce the name of the person who composed lyrics to his songs as a gesture of honor.

This noble quality of gratitude is rarely found in the modern society. Sanath & Malkanthi are instinctively gentle. Professor Sanath Nandasiri is an asset to the nation.

Long live Sanath !!!

- Asian Tribune -

Prof. Sanath Nandasiri Completes 50 Years As Distinguished Musician
Sanath Nandasiri
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