TANYA EKANAYAKA (b 1977 )
Tanya Ekanayaka is one of Sri Lanka’s foremost, internationally acclaimed and award winning concert pianist-composers. Classically trained and with a background in Asian and Popular musics, she is also a musicologist and linguist. Although trained as a pianist, her compositional skills are the result of a purely intuitive and natural development. She began studying the piano when she was five years old, made her début public recital appearance at the age of twelve and has since performed in notable international concert venues in Europe, the United States and Asia. Her United States début was a solo recital to a capacity audience at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC in 2012 where her recital incorporated the world première of two of her own compositions. Consistent with her interdisciplinary background, she holds a doctorate for interdisciplinary research involving Linguistics and Musicology from The University of Edinburgh as well as advanced academic and professional qualifications in Music Performance, Linguistics and Literature. She has been on the part time teaching faculty of Edinburgh University since 2007 where she has taught in its departments of Linguistics and Music.
The distinguishing feature of her recitals is that they incorporate her own compositions representing a novel and invigorating musical genre involving reinventions of Sri Lankan melodies belonging to a wide range of ancient, folk and popular music genres intertwined with musical motifs inspired by the tonal centres of the other works being performed in a given concert programme.
Her compositions which she describes as ‘deeply autobiographical’ evolve spontaneously and often as a whole when she is at the piano and are influenced by her multifaceted background, multilingualism, ambidexterity and partial colour synaesthesia. Her compositions have been featured on the BBC World Service as part of an exclusive interview and have regularly been the first by any Sri Lankan composer to be performed at international venues.