W. D. Amaradeva

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Pandit W.D. Amaradeva
Pandith W. D. Amaradeva.jpg
Born (1928-12-05) 5 December 1928 (age 85)
Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
Nationality Sri Lankan
Other names Waduge Don Albert Perera
Education Visharadha Bhatkhande Music Institute
Occupation University lecturer
Religion Theravada Buddhism
Spouse(s) Wimala Amaradeva
Children Ranjana Amaradeva, Subhani Amaradeva, and Priyanvada Amaradeva

Wannakuwatta Mitiwaduge Don Albert Perera (Sinhala: වන්නකුවත්ත මිටිවඩුගේ දොන් ඇල්බට් පෙරෙරා; born 5 December 1927) in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, better known by his adopted name Amaradeva, is a Sri Lankan vocalist, violinist and composer. Primarily using traditional instruments like sitars, tablas and harmoniums, Amaradeva incorporates Sinhala folk music with Indian ragas in his work.

In the mid-1950s, Amaradeva in his Janagayana project consulted experts of the Kandyan dance tradition like Pani Bharata, Kiriganita, Gunamala, Ukkuva and Suramba in his path to understand what constituted Sinhala folk music. Noting that it mostly revolved around a single melody, he decided to add verses that would lead up to the central melody which would now be a chorus thus forming two parts (unseen earlier in traditional Sri Lankan music) removing restrictions that had existed earlier. In doing so, Amaradeva created a uniquely Sinhalese music style that stayed true to folk tradition while incorporating outside influences. His work was vital in the creation of the sarala gee genre practised subsequently by artists like Victor Ratnayake, Sunil Edirisinghe and Sanath Nandasiri.[1][2]

Pandit Amaradeva has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Philippine Ramon Magsaysay Award (2001), Indian Padma Sri Award and Sri Lankan "President's Award of Kala Keerthi" (1986) and Deshamanya Award (1998). In 2003 the French government awarded him the prestigious honour; Chevalier. Notably he still remains the most popular artist as confirmed by Nielsen Media Research findings[1] He has also represented Sri Lanka in many forums including the UNESCO 1967 Manila Symposium, and composed the melody for the Maldives national anthem, Gaumii salaam,[3] at the request of British Queen Elizabeth II in 1972.

Pandit Amaradeva is the music composer of Maldivian National Anthem.

Early life and education[edit]

Guru Amaradeva in action.

Amaradeva was born the youngest of seven children to carpenter Wannakuwatta Waduge Don Ginoris Perera and Balapuwaduge Maggie Weslina Mendis at Janapriya Mawatha in Koralawella, Moratuwa. Perera was a Buddhist while Mendis was a Methodist bringing both Christian and Buddhist values to the family.

Amardeva was introduced to music at a young age by his father who crafted and repaired violins at Moratumulla Wadu Kaarmika Vidyalaya (Carpentry School). Amaradeva would often strum the violin while his mother sang hymns. Another family influence was Amaradeva's elder brother who taught Indian classical music to him. Amaradeva was presented with his own instrument on his seventh birthday which was a Japanese made tin violin by his father.

but D. T. Fernando once said His brother W.J. Fernando also was a music teacher and while working in Koralawella school noticed W. D. Amaradeva's talent. He noticed Amaradeva playing violin very well at the school. Later Amaradeva's father made a violin and he learned under him. D.T. was introduced to Asokamala film and Amaradeva played under Mohamed Ghouse. Later he went for his higher studies at Bhatkhande Music Institute in Lucknow, India in the middle of 1950. After coming back to Sri Lanka one day, D .T. was travelling from Kalutara to Colombo. Amaradewa also got on the same bus from Moratuwa and they met. Amaradeva invited D.T. to write lyrics for him. D.T. says that he wrote "Peenamuko Kalugange" while travelling on the bus but could not write the last verse because Amaradewa needed to get off at Bambalapitiya.

He obtained his early education under Ven. Malalankara Nayaka of the Koralawella temple. With the development of his musical talent, Amaradeva was asked to recite poems and prayers at the temple; he was subsequently picked to lead the village choir.

Amaradeva continued his studies at Sri Saddharmoday, a Buddhist Mixed School. While attending the school, he won a poetry contest held at the Moratuwa Vidyalaya; Amaradeva also led the school choir to a triumpant showing at a contest held by the Colombo Arts Society. His poetry win prompted school teachers to get him a showcase to recite poetry on Radio Ceylon. In 1945 Amaradeva won a gold medal at a music and violin contest held by Jana Kala Mandalaya[1]

Amaradeva entered Sri Sumangala College, Panadura after completing his primary education with a scholarship for English. At the school, he formed a friendship with the Principal Danister Thomas Fernando (D. T. Fernando). D. T. Fernando helped Amaradeva get into Kalutara Vidyalaya and subsequently Siddharta Vidyalaya Balapitiya.

Young Amaradewa met Sunil Santha, a prominent artist at the time at one of Sunil Santha's concerts. Since he showed interest Sunil Santha invited Amaradewa to audition at Chitrasena studios. There he played in front of Sunil Santha, Chitrasena and A. J. Ranasinghe and impressed them. This meeting and related events are described in detail by A. J. Ranasinghe,[4] Dr. Nandadasa Kodagoda[5] and Sunil Santha.[6] After the audition Sunil Santha brought Amaradewa to stay at Chitrasena Studios, his room mate was A. J. Ranasinghe

By chance filming of the film Ashokamala commenced nearby. Gerard J. Pieris of Moratuwa introduced Amaradeva to Mohamed Ghouse Master who was handling the music for the film and Ghouse recognising Amaradeva's skill enlisted him as the top violinist in his orchestra.

Amardeva left his studies and accompanied Ghouse to India to work on the film. He would play a triple role of singing, dancing and acting on the film with the song "Ayi Yameku Kale Ale."

Career[edit]

He found steady work as an artist on Radio Ceylon, where his unique vision and talent could be exhibited to an audience wider than he had ever before known – earning him a position at the Bhatkhande Music Institute in Lucknow, India. After extensive training, Albert returned to Sri Lanka as Pandit Wannakuwatta mitiwaduge Don Amaradeva.The name Amaradeva which translates as Immortal god was given to him by Prof. Ediriweera Sarachchandra (Sri Lanka's foremost playwright and a close associate).

During this time, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) had only begun emerging as an independent nation, and the question of what Sri Lankan music was, was slowly being addressed with equal vigour by intellectuals, artists and the general public. In response to the spirit of these times, Amaradeva began interweaving indigenous folk music with the Indian ragas he had studied in Lucknow, thereby giving expression to a more sophisticated cadence.

His other innovations include his experimentation with Western harmonies and counterharmonies, as well as with South Indian and Tamil musical forms. His opus, however, remains the work he did with Sri Lanka's celebrated lyricist Mahagama Sekera, in exploring the contours of fusing classical Sinhala poetry with his unique musical intonation. In time, Amaradeva's music came to reflect an entire philosophy, reflective of the spirit of a nation.

He has composed music for ballet (Karadiya, Nala Damayanthi, etc.), film (Ran Muthu Duwa, Gam Peraliya, Ransalu, Delovak Athara, Gatavarayo, Rena Girav, Thunman Handiya, etc.), theatre (Wessantara, etc.), radio and television.

Amaradeva, and wife Wimala, have one son (Ranjana Amaradeva), and two daughters (Subhani Amaradeva, herself a talented vocalist, and Priyanvada Amaradeva).[7]

Honors[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Music director[edit]

Year Film Other notes
1962 Ran Muthu Duwa debut as music director
1963 Adata Wadiya Heta Hondai songs only
Sikuru Tharuwa one song and background music
Gamperaliya
Getawarayo
1965 Saama background music
Laa Dalu
Saravita
Adarayai Karunawai
1966 Delovak Athara
Westhuru Siritha 1966 Delovak Athara
1981 Valampuri

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Tribute to Amaradeva over BBC Sandeshaya Daily News – 12 December 2007
  2. ^ Maestro Amaradeva is Sri Lanka’s most celebrated singer, musician and violinist
  3. ^ a b India honours doyen of modern Sinhala music The Hindu – 28 June 2011
  4. ^ Ranasinghe, A. J. (1981 04-27, 28, 29, 30). Visharada Kalakaruwek. Lake House: Dinamina – Lake House – 1981 April 27, 28 29. 30. 
  5. ^ Vitharana, Vinie. Sunil Samara. Central Archives Colombo. 
  6. ^ Sunil Watha. Sunil Watha. Central Archives – Colombo, Sri Lanka: CD containing images of articles from 1930 – 1960. 
  7. ^ A Tribute to Amaradeva: Art and humility unite in deathlessness – Pandith Amaradeva

External links[edit]