Beyond the Sithijaya
“If the idea behind the making of Sithijaya can find root here, nothing short of a revolution would take place in the music scene of this country,” said the compere at the press conference held to announce the launch of sitarist and composer Pradeep Ratnayake’s latest music CD on Sunday, July 15, when the twelfth concert in the internationally-acclaimed Pradeepanjalee series will take place at the BMICH at 7 p.m.
Passes for the concert will be available free of charge, from Monday, July 9 at Torana, Liberty Plaza, on a first come first served basis. “The idea is to make this kind of music available to all, and popularize it among all segments of society in Sri Lanka, for this is the kind of music that will bring a calmness and spiritual nourishment that is very important to our people today,” said Sarath Kotalawela of Torana, who is producing Sithijaya and who will also be filming the Pradeepanjalee XII concert on Sunday, to make the first DVD of the series.
The idea behind making Sithijaya is to popularize a different genre of music among the Lankan public who have got used to songs as almost the only form of musical entertainment. “There is much that can be achieved through good music, both in terms of personal upliftment and spiritual calmness. It is a pity that this aspect has not taken root in Sri Lanka. I would like to lead people towards such a taste in music, by giving them something beautiful and easy to listen to first, like the music of Richard Clayderman and Yanni for instance, so that they can later appreciate even more serious things like classical music,” said Pradeep Ratnayake.
His music in Sithijaya – about ten compositions that can be easily appreciated by all - aims to do just that.
In making this work easily enjoyable, the composer cum performer has made no compromise on the quality of the work. A stunning array of musicians, easily the best in their field in Sri Lanka, have contributed to this CD: Harsha Makalanda and Soundarie David on piano, Jayantha Dissanayake on saxophone, Lakshman Joseph de Saram and Kalani Perera on violin, Tamara Holsinger on cello, Alston Joachim and Upula Madhushanka on bass guitar, Kumara Liyanawatte on flute, Mahendra Pasquel on guitar, Manilal Weerakoon on French horn, Hasitha Pathirana on oboe, Nalaka Perera on bassoon, Suresh Maliyadda on Keyboard; Kolitha Bhanu Dissanayake, Madhavi Shilpadhipathi, Arulan and members of Soundarie David’s choir with their voices; Ravibandu Vidyapati, Jananatha Warakagoda, Brahmanayagam, Nesan Thiyagarajah, Karunaratne Bandara and Shiraz Noor Amith on percussion have all contributed towards this new CD.
Most of them will be performing at Pradeepanjalee XII, which will have new music of the CD as well as the old favourites of the Pradeepanjalee series. Wijeratne Ranatunge and Chandralal Amarakoon will also be performing that night.
To match the diversity of performers, and the diverse worlds of music that they represent in Sri Lanka, there is a range of styles found in the compositions of Sithijaya as well. Sri Lankan folk and the vannam, light Indian and Western classical, and Jazz have all lent their flavours to these pieces, and finding unity in the different worlds of music has now become the hallmark of Pradeep Ratnayake’s music. The individual items vary in their mood: there is passion, romance, serenity, calmness and so much more.
By linking himself with Torana, Pradeep says he has found a way of reaching out to people all over Sri Lanka, for he needs to take his music out of Colombo and to the areas beyond. It is not enough that he performs at global venues like the Asia Society in New York, or the Walt Disney Theatre, or the Vienna Musikverein – he must not forget his own people and their needs. He has to make a difference in the country that he was born in – and this is his first step towards making that change.