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DateLine Sunday, 17 February 2008

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An eternal flame of remarkable fusion music



Lakshman Joseph de Seram



Pradeep Ratnayake

Since embarked on a journey of discovery, Pradeep Ratnayake has been engaged in composing fusion music with distinct Sri Lankan flavour and identity. Nourished by the rich legacy of North Indian classical music, Pradeep has widened the scope and vista of the Sitar with a Sri Lankan identity.

One of the singular features of the Pradeepanjalee series of concerts is that the addition of new pieces to the concert. In keeping with this innovative tradition, Pradeep has added two pieces to his forthcoming Pradeepanjalee 14th concert which will be held on February 24 at the Lionel Wend theatre.

Here the DVD containing Pradeepanjalee concert held at the BMICH will be launched. Perhaps, this is the first time that a DVD with pure music is launched in Sri Lanka.

Piano-raga is a piece where only the Sitar and piano are used. In this piece, Piano is played by Harsha Makalanda while Pradeep plays Sitar. This is, perhaps, a remarkable fusion as the concept of Raga which is imbedded in the classical Indian tradition, is played on piano by a pianist who is from the jazz tradition of music.

As two traditions are polls apart, it would be a challenging task for the pianist to adapt to Ragic meter and Sitarist would also find it hard to communicate with the piano played according to jazz tradition. It is a delicate conversation not only between two instruments but also between two traditions of music.

Another novel item is the piece based on Indian folk songs which are supposed to be the origin of Sri Lankan folk songs.

In addition Pradeep will re-create the original tune played by Ravi Shankar, Yehudi Menuhim, Ustad Alla Rakha did a composition in 1967. For this composition, they won the Grammy Award. In the concert, it will be played by Pradeep Ratnayake, Lakshman Joseph de Seram and Chandralal Amarakoon. The original composition comes in the album 'East meets the West' and was based on Rag peelu..

The traditional piece of the music in the concert series include Kuveni, Wind, The creation based on Kuveni Asna is a remarkable piece marked for its sheer fusion of Eastern and Western music traditions.

It is the legend of the arrival of prince Vijaya and subsequent banishing of Kuveni, the native girl Vijaya fell in love with. It is lamentation of Kuveni which is captured in this piece. Kuveni is the story of the tragic princess from the history of Sri Lanka.

The story is vividly told in dance form. Re-composition of Kuveni Asna. The sitar and the violin, backed by the Kandyan drum, tabla and the bass guitar, are used in this composition to portray the story of passion, love, betrayal and heartbreak. 'Roots' is the piece based on folk tunes.

The folk tunes for this composition include the Sri Lankan prashasthi and vannam with the raga Pahandi, a raga originated from the folk tunes of India. An Arabic melody runs throughout the composition as a coloured thread.

Here Pradeep Ratnayake attempts to portray the possibility of blending folk music of different hues and the beauty created in such a blend. The Sri Lankan Kandyan drum, tammattama and Udakki are used with the tabla, ghatam and the Sri Lankan talampata..Flight which usually comes as the final piece of the composition is the re-creation of wind in a tone poem.

This piece is based on the Ukusa vannama and the composition mimics the powerful movements of the Hawk as it flies in the sky with gusto.

For this piece, elements of jazz music are heavily used in addition to the Sri Lankan Kandyan drum and Tammattama.

In an attempt to bring Sitar out of its traditional milieu, Pradeep has been composing fusion music, playing music from diverse music traditions on Sitar. Perhaps, for the first time, he has performed Western Classical Music on the sitar as part of his experimentation with the techniques of his instrument.

The long list includes the second violin part of Bach's 'Double Concerto' for Violin; Rimsky-Korsakof's 'Young Prince and the Princess'; a mandolin part on the sitar in Vivaldi's Concerto for Two Mandolins. The piece he played with a Swedish Mandolin player backed by the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka in 1998.

Educated at Santiniketan, India, in classical Hindustani music, in one of the famed schools of music, Pradeep obtained his Master of Music in 2003 with a First Division pass, and excelling as a classical sitarist.

He has embarked on a journey to explore the vistas of the traditional Sitar, drawing inspirations from as many traditions of music as possible with a blend of percussion instruments both from the Western, Eastern and even African traditional percussion instruments.

For this concert, Pradeep joins with his ensemble consisting of Harsha Makalanda (piano), Lakshman Joseph de Seram (violin), Kumar Liyanawatte (flutes), Chandralal Amerakoon (tabla), Jannatha Warakagoda (tammattama and guttam), Karunaratne Bandara (Gataberaya) and Alston Joachim.


Hong Kong gallery invites Lankan artistes

A Sri Lankan born artist, Sarathchandra Seneviratne who has been running his private art gallery in Hong Kong invites Sri Lankan artistes to send their entries to be displayed at an international exhibition scheduled to be held from February 5 April 30.

Seneviratne who is known as SARASENE served as the head of the graphic section at Lake House in the 80s and migrated to Hong Kong. He worked for several international newspapers and magazines there for over two decades as a graphic expert and later joined Lake House as a graphic consultant in 2002.

After a short spell at Lake House, he returned to HK to run his own gallery, SARASENE, and he expects to display all entries sent to him at this gallery, which could be the first art gallery run by a Sri Lankan.

"We have arranged a grand international exhibition for cartoonists, illustrators, caricaturists and comic artists to participate at this exhibition and they could send any number of entries.

Participants will get a certificate from the International Cartoonists and Graphics Organisation from USA and some prices too.

They can send their entries now by post and or e mail them with high resolution jpeg format to the following addresses", he said.

[email protected]

or post to

SARASEN International Gallery Plus
C/o Menaka Sen / Gallery Manager
5A, Winner Building
Lan Kwai Fong
D'Agiliar Street
Central
Hong Kong.


Await the Rebellion!

From the creators of the hilarious Bengal Bungalow and Pyramus & Thisby comes a magical romance, filled with intrigue and comedy. CentreStage Productions, which focuses on original theatre and radically novel adaptations, is now rehearsing for their next hit show - Caliban's Rebellion.

This spectacular reworking of Shakespeare's classic The Tempest, is adapted, designed & directed by Jehan Aloysius.

Caliban's Rebellion is a magical blend of Shakespeare's verse, exciting dance and original rhythms inspired by Africa and the Caribbean.

The show is constructed from the sub-plot of The Tempest, and is set on an unnamed island in the West Indies. The plot follows the demonised slave Caliban who rebels against the malevolent wizard, Prospero, in an effort to reclaim his island from his European master.

Caliban's Rebellion will hit the boards of the Punchi Theatre, Borella from the 21st - 24th of February at 7.30 p.m.

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