Sunday, 29 November 2009


Montage - Cultural paradigm | - Sri Lanka
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Ravibandu Vidyapathi's 25 years on stage :

Artistic monuments of excellence

Kolitha Bhanu Dissanayake

In retrospective of his trailblazing career, Ravibandu Vidyapathi stands as a colossus in the contemporary Sri Lankan music scene. His shadow has cast over many areas such as innovative and experimental music, preservation of traditional dance and furthering the Sri Lankan tradition of ballad. Grown up against the backdrop of music, dance and arts, Ravibandu Vidyapathi, albeit accomplished in diverse areas such as painting, music and dance, took to dancing under the senior dancers such as maestro Chithrasena and Piyasara Shilpadhipathi. Although Ravibandu is famous as a choreographer, one little known fact is that he is also an accomplished artist like his father Somabandu Vidyapathi.

Ravi Sarasavi, a dance and percussion concert which was held at the BMICH was perhaps, the epitome of Ravibandu Vidyapathi's trailblazing career which spread over two and a half decades. The concert was organised by the Araliya Group of the Old Boys' Association of Dharmapala Vidyalaya, Pannipitiya.

Ravi Sarasaviya, among other things, marked an important milestone in Sri Lankan music scene as it was one of the rare attempts by Sri Lankan percussionist-cum-dancer to take Sri Lankan music to the arena of international music.

Though traditional drums of Sri Lanka have been studied over the years, they have not been recognised by the international music industry. For instance, the absence of drums of Sri Lankan and their beats in electronic music instruments have effectively hampered the chance of Sri Lankan percussion instruments reaching a wider audience.

Ravibandu Vidyapathi as he celebrates 25 years on stage both as an accomplished dancer, choreographer and musician, he looks forward to take Sri Lankan traditional percussion instruments to international arena in digitalizing the tones and their memorable beats. Over the years, Ravibandu has been engaged in experimenting with percussion instruments. The result of the meticulous process is the birth of a percussion ensemble comprising percussion instruments from diverse music traditions of the world.

In his march towards modernity from the age of traditional family-based education system to a digital era, Ravibandu was able not only to yoke heterogeneous traditions together in a harmonious manner but also to incorporate Sri Lankan percussion instruments into his ensemble. It should be stated here that incorporation of beats of Sri Lankan percussion instruments into electronic music instruments would be beneficial in the long run, especially to propagate them internationally and to encourage international scholars to study the tradition in its authentic form in Sri Lanka.

Deep insight into the subject

Ravibandu Vidyapathi

Ravibandu is marked for his up-to-date knowledge of music, dance and choreography and his deep insight into the craft. Most of his creations are embedded with a deep philosophy and reflects the milieu. For instance, his ballads such as 'Macbeth', 'Judas' and 'Hecabe', 'Gandhari and Kusumalatha' are not only excellent productions in terms of their choreography, performance and depth of plots. He has performed diverse roles in a large number of productions including 'Karadiya', 'Nala Damayanthi', 'Shivaranga', 'Chandaalika' and 'Rashoman'.

The artist is a forerunner of cultural movement. The very soul and the style of the expressive art is determined by the perceptive nature of the artist. Ravibandu through his creations has demonstrated this quality. It is through the productions that the artist expresses himself and success or failure of such production is dependent on the insightfulness of the artist and the methods that he employed to reach out to the public. It has been observed that Ravibandu has perused a vision, despite financial cost, since the commencement of his career.

Multifaceted personality

Ravibandu is a multifaceted personality. For he is an accomplished dancer and a musician. He is well versed in diverse traditions of dancing besides being a drummer. In him is an enchanting musician who knows the subtle nuances of beats in percussion instruments from diverse tradition of music. He has a vast knowledge of music scores that accompanied such percussion instruments. Given his vision, perception and intention of up lifting the standards of both classical and contemporary music in Sri Lanka, Ravibandu Vidyapathi is undoubtedly one of the great musicians of our time.

(The article is based on a speech by Kolitha Bhanu Dissanayake, the Dean of the Faculty of Music of the University of Visual and Performing Arts and the Acting Vice Chancellor.)

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