About this Recording
GP879 - Ekanayaka: The Planets & Humanity - Piano Reflections
TANYA EKANAYAKA (b. 1977)
The framework for The Planets & Humanity – Piano Reflections whilst conceptually an extension of my previous albums, came to me in a dream in mid-2018. The majority of the works evolved in 2020 in my apartment in Edinburgh (Scotland), during the first eight months of lockdown solitude owing to the Covid-19 global pandemic, with one of the works and parts of three others having evolved in 2018 and 2019. The evolution of the album concluded on 14 October 2020.
I see a uniquely powerful and delicate congruence between ancient music which predates and forms the antecedent to the numerous musical genres of today’s world and genres to be, on the one hand, and the unfathomable infinity of the universe within which is arguably contained all existence, past, present and future. The prevailing continuity of each may be seen to correspond to a deep connection between the elements comprising each and, in turn, project a conflation of time and space into an organic ‘moment’, as it were. An intuitive reflection on this congruence underlies each work of this album and the album as a whole.
The eight works of this album correspond to reflections on the eight planets of our solar system and the seven continents comprising our home, Earth. With the exception of Earth – Life and Mercury with Antarctica embedded within each work are trans-created echoes of six traditional melodies belonging to six indigenous peoples of the six continents containing human habitation, namely, Africa, Asia, Australia/Oceania, Europe, North America and South America. The peoples whose music thus inspires the works, are the Asháninka, Cree, Gond, Hadzabe, Numbulwar and Sámi. In the case of Antarctica which is paired with Mercury, the work represents an imagined connection between them through a reflection on elements which may render them both similar and distinct. Earth – Life, a reflection on pain, resilience hope and healing is dedicated to each and every human being confronted by the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Contemplating through the piano, musics which predate its birth is also connected to my own personal journey of evolving deeply autobiographical musical tapestries for the piano within an attendant creative vision. Alongside inheriting from birth, two languages of my homeland, Sinhala and English, I inherited and began to internalise, from birth, the sound and language of the piano alongside the varied indigenous musics of my homeland and a wide variety of musical genres and styles from across the world which reside within me, synergistically and symbiotically. As such, the presence in my music of trans-created echoes of the musics of communities and peoples whose music predates the piano is in part, inspired by my own personal experience and contributes to my effort to reflect within my music, a vision of harmonious coexistence amongst all individuals and all living beings as magnificently diverse as they are, whilst concurrently expanding the trajectory of the piano across time and space. Crucially, though, the echoes are a consequence of being personally inspired by these musics and are consequently an entirely personal reflection, not intended to represent the musics or their peoples.
Each work concludes in a manner which connects it to its beginning thus making it possible to repeat it endlessly. The works are also connected structurally and stylistically with recurrent techniques in keeping with the vision which unites the works. The listing of the works in this recording corresponds to the proximity and distance of the planets represented in each of the works to the sun with the first being the planet furthest from the sun, the second being the planet closest to the sun and so on – this arrangement is intended as a symbolic reminder of their interconnectedness within the universe.
Neptune: Asháninka Kindled
Echoes of a melody belonging to the Asháninka people whose homelands spread across vast regions of South America inspire several sections of this work. Woven into the work are some contrapuntal elements which traverse differing musical narratives exploring a tapestry of moods as part of reflecting on the mysteries of this giant planet most distant to Earth within our solar system. One theme evolved in July 2018 whilst the remainder of the work evolved in March 2020.
Mercury with Antarctica
This work which evolved in veritable halves in October 2019 and April 2020 is an imagined reflection on Mercury and Antarctica, two inhospitable ‘worlds’ of extremes, presented here as also containing within themselves, tenderness. It is intended to be calming, in some sense an antidote of sorts to the chaos of our times.
Uranus: Numbulwar Sustaining
An adaptation of a melody belonging to the indigenous Numbulwar people of the Northern Territory of Australia features centrally in this work surrounded by a fantasyworld reflection on the unique interactions of the various elements which constitute the planet Uranus. It evolved in June 2020.
Venus: Sámi Traced
This work evolved in veritable halves on an afternoon in November 2019 and May 2020. It combines a reflection on the planet Venus within which are straddled transcreations of a melody belonging to the ancient Sámi people of Europe.
Saturn: Gond Inspired
Evolved in August 2019, this work combines eight intertwining themes. Seven themes correspond to the four groups of rings and three groups of fainter rings presently known to belong to the planet Saturn. The eighth theme is intended to represent all that is unknown about the planet, yet to be discovered, perhaps, or destined to remain hidden to humanity. One prominent theme, which also recurs as a motif within some of the other themes, is an adaptation of a melody belonging to the historic indigenous Indian tribe known as the Gond.
It was premièred in October 2019 in the Reid Concert Hall of Edinburgh University within a solo recital organised by the university to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi as part of its inaugural South Asia Week programme. The performance bore particular personal significance as Mahatma Gandhi and his wife Kasturbai spent a few days at the residence of my maternal great-grandfather’s brother, James Abraham Corea during their visit to Sri Lanka in 1927 as Gandhi was a close friend of two of my great-grand uncles and prominent Sri Lankan freedom fighters Charles Edgar Corea and Charles Edward Victor Seneviratne Corea.
Earth – Life
Evolved in July and October 2020, this work reflects on the interconnected states of our earthly life and human spirit – on being, hope, loss and renewal. As such it involves a narrative like movement across differing yet not unconnected themes. From the individuals first tragically affected by it in China to the billions of individuals across the globe affected variously, this work takes inspiration from and is dedicated to each and every human being enveloped by the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Jupiter: Cree Cast
This work reflects on the mysteries underlying the genesis and vastness of Jupiter, the largest planet of our solar system. Within this resides an adaptation of a melody of the Cree people, one of the largest First Nation peoples of North America which also echoes through the later stages of the work. It evolved in August 2020.
Mars: Hadzabe Touched
Evolved in April 2020, a considerably gentle, albeit imagined vision of the planet Mars is depicted in this work interpolated with trans-creations of a melody belonging to the ancient Tanzanian Hadzabe people.
Dr Tanya Ekanayaka
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