Prof. Sanath Nandasiri:
50 years as a distinguished musician
Sanath Nandasiri, a professional artiste who made an outstanding
contribution during 1970s introducing a new era of Sri Lankan creative
music, celebrates his birthday, tomorrow, February 15. This is the most
appropriate occasion to ink this appreciation as an avid listener to his
everlasting compositions, because the occasion also marks another
milestone - the completion of his 50 years as a professional singer.
Sanath Nandasiri, a great singer, maestro, outstanding composer of
innovative music and Professor of the University was born to William
Perera and Dona Amalin Katugampola in the village of Gothatuwa, Colombo.
He began his primary education at Gothatuwa Madya Maha Vidyalaya and
later entered St. Mathews' College in Dematagoda, a starting point for
artiste to continue studies in the English Medium.
was 13 years of age when he had the opportunity of displaying singing
talents in 'Lamapitiya', a very popular children evening program aired
by the then Radio Ceylon, now Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC).
He not only displayed his talents and skills in singing but in
orchestral music as well. In 1958, he joined the Government Music
Institute, which was later developed into a University. After 10 months,
encouraged by his Guru in Music, S. D. S. Jayasekera, he left for India
in 1959 to further his musical talents. Being the first student enrolled
in 1958 by Guru D. R. Peiris, this future Virtuoso mastered his inborn
skills in playing Tala Taranga (Tabla) before his tour to Bhathkande in
He joined Bhathkande University of Arts in Lucknow and learned under
well renowned Indian musicians like Ustad Mokshut Ali and Pandit Hari
Shankar Misra. He worked hard and mastered his degree in Singing and
Orchestral Music. He returned to Sri Lanka in 1964 and later, on the
based on the results of the Vocal Music Exam, he was honoured with the 'Sangeeth
Nipun' title, the first Sri Lankan to have achieved such a distinguished
excellence for musical brilliancy.
Direction of Music to a drama staged in Nugegoda during Vesak
Celebrations was his musical debut in life. This event is historical at
which milestone he met Malkanthi Peiris, the charming lady characterised
by gracefulness and kindness whom he subsequently married.
It was in the mid part of the 1960s that Sanath appeared for an
audition for classical music conducted by SLBC. Inspired by talents
displayed at the audition, he was invited by P. Dunstan Silva, who was a
member of the Audition Board, to sing in the (GeethaNatakaya) story
named 'Navadeli Henaka' written in verse by PandithWimal Abeysundara,
with music composed by D. Dunstan Silva.
In recognition of his magnificent singing performance, he was
honoured by P. L. A. Somapala, the Head of Music Department of
Commercial Service of the SLBC to disport his singing skills through the
Saralagee program, the golden key that opened the gate to his reputation
as a Maestro.
Three songs recorded in his first Saralagee Program, 'Evilunu Ginide',
'Mahada Pem Ville' and 'Mihiravi' lyrics of which were written by
Bandara K.Wijetunga, became favourite hits overnight. Since then, as a
Super Grade Radio Artiste he has influenced music fans with a large
number of songs of his own creation which include 'Bo Maluwe', 'Adara
Semarum', 'Eda meda tura', 'Mama namasai', 'Sendakaluwara', 'Waradakkalath',
'Etha epita' and 'Mage Ratata Dalada Himi sevanai'.
Sanath has composed a good number of creative favourites like 'Me
Guru Pare', 'Paya Seetha Reye', 'Maha Wesaka' for other artistes as
Since he became highly popular within a very short period of time, he
was offered Music Direction and Singing in silver screen in appreciation
of his expertise in creative music. He entered in movie industry as a
play back singer for 'Sedol Kandulu' screened on July 31, 1967. The song
'Therak Ne Asha' lyrics of which were written by Henry Jayasena, with
music by Amaradewa, was his first contribution to the Sinhala Cinema.
He rose to glory in playback singing with such movies as 'Hari maga',
'Hanthane Kathawa', 'Samanala Kumario', Hathara Wate', 'Sihina Lowak', 'Ahas
Gawwa', 'Dulika', 'Sagarika', 'Amaraniya Adare', 'Nedeyo', 'Pembara Madu',
'Vishmaya', 'Jeevana Kadulu', 'Higana Kolla', 'Vasanthaye Dawasak', 'Ajasatha',
'Senasuma', 'Kaarte Joe', 'Salabak Hadai', 'Salli Thibunata Madi' and 'Indra
Keelaya'. His Golden Voice was used mostly behind Vijaya Kumaratunga.
Historically it is significant that the late Dharmadasa Walpola sang his
last film song 'Hithapu Dewal Kiyanna Berivi' a duet with Sanath, in the
film 'Hingana Kolla' (1979). Exhibiting his expertise in music, Sanath
debuted music direction with 'Ajasaththa' screened in 1981 followed by 'Thuththiri
Mal' (1983), 'Ranmalige Vasanawa' (1984), 'Mihidum Salu' (1985) and 'Kiwulegedara
He also composed music for several teledramas including 'Sandamalige
Kathawa' - one of the first teledramas to be telecast on Rupavahini
Ajantha Ranasinghe, one of the leading lyricists of our time wrote 'Uttama
Munidalada' for Sri 'Dalada Geetha Natakaya' for which melody was
composed by Sanath. A special feature of great significance was Ajantha
and Sanath were able to bring back Dharmadasa Walpola to the SLBC for
the recording of this historical song.
Sanath won the prestigious 'Sarasavi' Award in 1988 and the
Presidential Award in '2001' for the best playback-singer in recognition
of his performance for songs such as 'Vasana Weva' in 'Mangala Thegga'
and 'Sahodariyai Eya'' in' Indra Keelaya'.
An ingenious writer, he is also the author of 'Sangeetanjalee', 'Ragalankaraya'
and 'Jeewithaye Chamathkaraya'.
As a professional musician, Sanath joined the Music Faculty of the
Kelaniya University of Visual and Performing Arts as a lecturer and rose
to the heights of Dean of the Music Faculty.
For the past 50 years, innovative compositions of his songs have
enamoured him to all segments of society.
Sanath married Malkanthi in 1971 and are now an exemplary singing duo
accredited with humble qualities of high reputation.
Clarksburg, Maryland, USA