Dinesh Subasinghe

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Dinesh Subasinghe
Dinesh Subasinghe copy.JPG
Background information
Born (1979-07-10) 10 July 1979 (age 37)
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Genres Film score, classical, Buddhist music, Alternative rock, religious music, pop music, Celtic music, Folk music, Sri Lankan Passion plays
Occupation(s) Composer, violinist, music arranger, music producer, music director, actor
Instruments Violin, Ravanahatha, Guitar, Mandolin, Kingri, Ekthar, Banjo
Years active 1998–present
Labels M entertainment

Dinesh Subasinghe (born 10 July 1979, Colombo) is a Sri Lankan composer, violinist, and music producer. He composed Karuna Nadee, a Buddhist oratorio, and re-introduced a lost, ancient musical instrument known as the ravanahatha (violin) to Sri Lanka.[1][2][3] He is also a film and television composer whose works integrate western and eastern classical music with electronic music, Buddhist music, Folk music, traditional orchestral arrangements, and world music genres.[4] From 2002 to 2009 he led the pop classical band, Dee R Cee Members.[3][5]

Early life[edit]

Born in Negombo, Sri Lanka in 1979, Subasinghe studied at St Peter's College, Colombo and Maris Stella College in Negombo.[3] He began playing music at a very young age. He studied music under Samantha Amarajeewa, Janaki Disanayaka, Christal Luduwike, and Patrick Master at his school and in the city. He also studied with well-known professors of Sri Lankan music: B. Victor Perera, Mahinda Senivirathan, Ashoka Jayawardhana, Kalani Perera, and Ananda Perera).[6]

In 2001 Subasinghe started learning western classical music under Hasini Halpe (daughter of Briget and Ashly Halpe) and Annada Dabare. Later they assisted Subasinghe in joining the Sri Lankan Symphony Orchestra.[7]

Sri Lankan vocalist, Angeline Gunathilaka, and journalist Hemanalin Karunarathna (chairman of HTV), introduced him to the Sri Lankan media in 2001[citation needed] and soon after he became a member of Sri Lankan composer, Stanley Peiris's orchestra.[8][9] Subasinghe worked under the Sri Lankan composer Premasiri Khemadasa for eight years and led the orchestra for Khemdasa's opera Agni (2007–2008). From 2001 to 2005 he was a member of Sri Lankan musical groups led by Dumindu Kadigamuwa, Harsha Bulathsinghala, Janananth Warakagoda, and Dilup Gabadamudalige.[5][10]

Khemadasa Conducts Agni while Dinesh lead's the Orchestra

He began composing for television and film in 2004 when cinema director Chandrathna Mapitigama selected him to compose music for his television series Hummane.[11] In 2009 he received a scholarship from Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to study music under A. R. Rahman at the KM Music Conservatory in India.[12] At the conservatory, he won the Best Student Award in the instrumental section for violin.[13][14][15]


Classical music[edit]

Subasinghe has composed: a Buddhist oratorio, Karuna Nadee,[16] as well as a symphony, trio, sonata, two a cappella pieces, a string quartet, a concerto for trumpet, and a piece for viola, The Dance of Salome.[17] His string quartet, Night Before The Battle, was selected by Joel Thome's Orchestra of Our Time from one hundred compositions from the world.[18] He has composed music for sixty-three Sri Lankan television series, thirteen films, and sixteen stage plays[19][20] and has re-introduced the ancient instrument, the ravanahatha, to Sri Lanka.[21]

Subasinghe was the first Sri Lankan to write a cappella pieces with Sri Lankan national themes for SATB choirs, including "The Princes of the Lost Tribe" for Menaka De Shabandu's choir[22] and "Ancient Queen of Somawathee" for Bridget Halpe's choir. These works were based on historical incidents described in the Mahawansa.[citation needed] The style of these compositions uses different harmonies and a sound which is different from Western classical music traditions.[23][24][25]

Alternative rock music Subasinghe led the alternative rock music band, Dee R Cee and introduced rock music into several Sri Lankan television series.[26] Later, he composed music for Hithata Wahal wimi and Sarangana, television dramas for Sirasa TV.[citation needed] Subasinghe is the first rock violin performer in Sri Lanka to combine Asian music techniques with rock music.[citation needed] He performed at the 2011 Share the Love concert and on Rupavahini TV in February 2013 with the song "Ra Roo".[26]

YouTube record[edit]

Subasinghe released an alternative-rock song "E Kale: The One" with Charmika Sirimanne and Ranushka Fernando in 2013, along with its music video created by Ranushka Fernando.[27] It has become the most viewed Sri Lankan music video on YouTube reaching more than 1.3 million viewers.[28]

Musician, music director, actor[edit]

Subasinghe has played as a musician for numerous local and international music directors and composers,[who?] as well as the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka from 2003 to 2005.[6] He was also a member of the South Indian Cinema Musicians Union.[29] He has released four CDs: Rawan Nada, Feel My Heart, Sihina Wasanthayak soundtrack and Karuna Nadee.[30] Dinesh has worked with his former Principal A.R.Rahman and Katrina Kaif on her CD Rhyme Skool with Katrina Kaif produced by Sa Re Ga Ma Productions in India in 2009–2010.[4]

He won Best Music Director at the 2009 Sri Lankan SIGNIS Awards for Siri Sirimal, a Sri Lankan television adaptation of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer,[29] and Sumathi Awards in 2012 for Pinsara Dosthara, a Sri Lankan adaptation of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde[31]

Subasinghe's first professional acting appearance was in Parapura by Cletus Menids in 2012.[citation needed] He also he performed a leading role on his music video E Kale: The One, and played King Herod Antipas in the 2013 Paasku television series by Prem Fernando.[32]

In 2014, his newly formed String Quartet, Ravan, toured and performed at the Four Seasons Resort on Landaa Giraavaru in the Maldives.[33]

O'Connor Method Camp in New York[edit]

In 2015 Dinesh participated in the O'Connor Method Summer Camp in New-York which was conducted by well known violinist Mark O'Connor. At the camp Dinesh impressed O'Connor and the participants when he performed American music with his Ravanahatha.[34][35][36]

Dee R Cee[edit]

From 2002 to 2009 Subasinghe led the pop classical bands, Dee R Cee and Dinesh and Friends.[3] The other members of Dee R Cee were singers Ranuka Sudam and Chandumal Samapriya.[5] Their music encompassed multiple genres, including pop, alternative rock, cinema music, Hindustan classical, country and western, baila and 1970s music. Hemanalin Karunarathne invited Dee R Cee members to direct music for several television programs on the Swarnawahini TV network including: Hansa vila, Haa haa pura, Gee TV, and Christmas Night 2005.[37] Dee R Cee members also appeared on Sirasa TV and Derana TV providing music for Looks Like, Auto Plus, Hansavilla, Mathra, and Christmas programmes in 2006 and 2007, and a Valentine's Day programme on Derana TV.[19]


See also: Ravanahatha

In 2007, Subasinghe introduced the ancient instrument the ravanahatha to Sri Lanka on his album Rawan Nada, comprising twelve instrumentals and background vocals.[38][39] The ravanahatha ( ravanhatta, rawanhattha, ravanastron, or ravana hasta veena) is a bowed fiddle popular in Western India. It is believed to have originated among the Hela civilisation of Sri Lanka at the time of King Ravana.[40] The bowl is made out of a cut coconut shell whose the mouth is covered with goat hide. A dandi (neck), made of bamboo, is attached to this shell. The principal strings are two: one made of steel, the other made of horsehair. The long bow has jingle bells. The instrument was believed to have been played by King Ravana himself and to have been the first stringed instrument played with a bow.[41] Subasinghe has proposed that the western violin evolved from the ravanahatha.[42] Ravana Nada is the first recording to include actual music played on the ravanahatha,[19] although it had previously appeared in films as a visual item. On this CD Subasinghe performed with a slightly different version of the instrument. He also played it on A. R. Rahman's Rhyme Skool with Katrina Kaif which was narrated by Katrina Kaif, and for some Indian Tamil movie music.[21] In addition to the ravanahatha, Subasinghe is reviving another ancient bowed instrument called the kingiri.,[7][38][43] Since 2007 Subasinghe has tried to discover the similarity between the Ravan strong and the Kingri string Instrument.[19][44] He has mentioned to the media that the instrument is discussed the book by Abele and Niederheitmann translated by John Broadhouse The Violin: Its History & Construction, Illustrated & described, From Many Sources published by William Reeves in London between 1900 -1930.

In the same year he asked the Cultural Minister Mahinda Yapa Abewardhana to have his ministry staff research the real history of the ravanahatha. He feels that it is important that Sri Lanka claim the rights for this ancient fiddle.[19]

Subasinghe's version of the ravanahatha has been referred to by Michael Ondaatje the Canadian novelist and poet who won the Booker Prize for his novel The English Patient, which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film. His brother, Sir Christopher Ondaatje, in an article on the ravanahatha, cites it as the mother of today's violin.[45]

Subasinghe's Rawan Nada album has set a record as the highest selling instrumental music CD in Sri Lanka.[19][20] Released on the Tharanga label, owned by Vijay Ramanayaka, the CD was Dinesh’s first solo album and the first solo album using this historical instrument. It sold 16,000 copies between the years 2009 - 2015.[20]

Buddhist oratorio, Karuna Nadee[edit]

In 2010, Subasinghe composed Karuna Nadee (River of Kindness) an oratorio for chorus and orchestra based on the life of Buddha.[46] According to the Sri Lankan newspaper The Daily Mirror, it is the first Buddhist oratorio and the first musical work based on Buddha's life and philosophy[16] since Premasiri Khemadasa's cantata Pirinivan Mangalya, a requiem based on Buddha's Parinirvana.[16] However, the American composer Dudley Buck composed an oratorio on the life of Buddha, The Light of Asia, which was first performed in 1887.[47] Buddhist texts have also been incorporated into two other western oratorios, Somei Satoh's 1987 Stabat Mater and Jonathan Harvey's 2011 Weltethos.[48][49]

The oratorio consists of 12 pieces of music and, according to the Sri Lanka Daily News, is composed in "Far Eastern, Sri Lankan, Indian, and Western classical styles".[46] It also includes a Buddhist chant in the background, as well as elements from Tibetan music and folk and pop genres.[50] It was his first major work since coming home for a break from the A. R. Rahman Academy in India.[4] Buddhist monk Athuraliye Rathana Thero and Negombo astrologer Ranushka Fernando contributed ideas to the conceptualization of the work.[50][51] The work, with Subasinghe playing some of the music has been released on CD.[38][52][53][54]

Passion plays and other religious music[edit]

Subasinghe has composed music for sixteen Sri Lankan Passion plays since 1999.[citation needed] His music for these plays combines a variety of styles and genres, including Gregorian chant, western classical music, Portuguese music, and Sri Lankan folk music.[55] In 2000, Sri Lanka's Catholic Media Unit and Tower Hall Theater Foundation organised a passion play cultural programme at Negombo, where they assembled all the traditional passion play drama teams from all parts of the country.[citation needed] Subasinghe was appointed music director for the programme.[citation needed] In 1999, 2000, and 2001, Sri Lankan dramatist, Peter Wellambage, Subasinghe and composer Jayantha Modarage, participated in the production of a modern Sri Lankan passion play, Kurusiya Matha Miyadunemi, performed in the Katuwapitiya and Bolawalana villages in Negombo.Dee R Cee History Subasinghe created the music for the passion play Aho mage senageni performed in 2003 and 2007 in Halpe, Katana near Negombo.[citation needed] It was directed by Alexius Fernando and used the traditional Oberammergau Passion Play costumes for the first time in a Sri Lankan passion play.[citation needed] He has since continued his involvement with the Aho mage senageni project.[citation needed]

In 2008, Subasinghe composed music for an audio remake of the 1970s Katu Otunna stage drama audio CD and Duwa historic passion play which is based on the story of Jesus and was directed by Clement Fernadao. All of the main folk tunes in this play were sung by the Sri Lankan female vocalist, Nanda Malini. He has included many western vocalists and choirs and classical musicians in this creation to enhance the Christian orchestral sounds with folk music.[41] In 2012, eighteen Sri Lankan cinema and television stars participated in the passion play Sri Kurusawalokanaya Thambakanda, which was produced by Pream Fernanado and directed by Peter Wellambage with music by Subasinghe. Jeewan Kumaranatunga played the role of Jesus. In 2013, Subasinghe composed music for the passion play in St Anthony's Church in Dalupotha, Negombo.[citation needed]

Subasinghe composed the music for the 2013 television film based on the life of Jesus, Jesu Christu Yuga Peraliya, produced by Prem Fernando.[32] He also served as assistant director and script editor, and played the role of Herod Antipas. Jewan Kumarathunga played the role of Jesus while Ravindra Randeniya played Pontius Pilate.[citation needed] More than twenty-five Sri Lankan cinema and television stars participated the project.[56]

Subasinghe participated in a joint Sadaham Sevana musical concert with Korea and India on 4 July 2011.[57] He composed Mist of a Mountain, a tribute piece for Eastern Asia and has participated in many religious music projects around South Asia.[13][55][58]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Best Original Score Awards

Year Film,Tv Series Award Festival Category Result
2009 Siri Sirimal Tv Series[29] Signis Awards Best Music score Golden Award Won
2012 Pinsara Dosthara TV Series[59][60] Sumathi Tele Awards Best Music Director Award Won
2015 WarigaPojja Movie[61] 3rd Derana Lux Awards Best Music original score Nominated
2016 Ho Gaana Pokuna Movie[62] 4th Derana Sunsilk Awards Best Music Original score[63] Won

Most Popular Song Awards

Year Film,Tv Series Category Result
2015 WarigaPojja[61] 3rd Derana Lux Awards for Most Popular Film Song Won
2016 Ho Gaana Pokuna Movie[62] [64] 4th Derana Sunsilk Awards for Most Popular Film Song Won

Special Awards

  • Special Jury Award at the Light of Asia Foundation Buddhist Film Festival 2011 for the Buddha oratorio Karuna Nadee


Subasinghe has composed music for 71 teledramas, 12 movie scores, 17 stage plays, 6 documentaries and 14 audio albums etc. Subasinghe has become the youngest composer to write 50 teledrama scores for Sri Lankan TV media. Subasinghe received the 2012 best music director Sumathi award for his creations in ‘Pinsara Dosthara’ became the youngest to receive the prestigious award in the 18-year history of Sumathi Awards.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]