'Concert' Pianist . Composer . Improviser . Musicologist . Linguist
“The tenderest of melodies resides within you: it is the caress-fragranced, kaleidoscopic voice of your child-heart, as it was, is and will be...”.Tanya Ekanayaka - Scotland, 02/2012.
“Tanya Ekanayaka is a musician of rare accomplishment. Her pianism is fresh and powerful, technically assured and emotionally persuasive. As a composer she has the ability to synthesise her inter-cultural experience to create music that is original and compelling. In an age when the composer-pianist seems like a moment from the past, Tanya Ekanayaka shows us the potential of such a complete musicianship.”Professor Peter Nelson Head, Department of Music, University of Edinburgh, UK.
“Tanya Ekanayaka's music is subtle, beautiful and surprising. Whereas many Asian composers like, say, Takemitsu or Tan Dun, have arrived in European concert halls through a combination of international modernism and carefully crafted encounters with Asian folk and classical music, Tanya has travelled in precisely the opposite direction. Her starting point is in her experience as a pianist playing music of Western serious music tradition, and in particular the mid-Romantic repertoire. It is after a long journey through the rich language of mature Western tonality that she eventually reaches, along a purely instinctive and intuitive path, the popular melodies and hymns of her native Sri Lanka. It is through the arpeggios, embellishments and filigree of the language of Chopin and Liszt that she approaches the graceful ornamentation of her cultural tradition: the circles and slender pillars of the Polonnaruwa vatadage; the colourful costumes, movements and rhythms of Ves or Naiyandi dances.”Professor Nigel Osborne MBE, FRCM University of Edinburgh, UK.
Dr. Tanya Ekanayaka (Tanya Nissani Ilangakkone Ekanayaka) is among Sri Lanka's most distinguished, award winning and internationally acclaimed composer-pianists. Classically trained and with a background in popular and South Asian musics, she is also an improviser and musicologist in addition to being a highly qualified linguist. Tanya Ekanayaka began studying the piano when she was just five years old, made her debut public recital appearance at the age of twelve and has since performed widely as soloist, accompanist and in ensembles both internationally and in Sri Lanka. Consistent with her interdisciplinary background, she holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Honours degree in English Literature and Linguistics from the University of Peradeniya, a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Linguistics and English Language from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and a Doctorate for her interdisciplinary research in Linguistics and Musicology also from Edinburgh University. Tanya Ekanayaka is also a Fellow of the Trinity College of Music London (FTCL), and a Licentiate of both the Associated Board of The Royal Schools of Music (LRSM), and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (LGSMD) UK. The Guildhall school awarded her its Professional Performer's Diploma (PPD) in 1999. Tanya Ekanayaka was appointed a member of the academic staff of the University of Peradeniya in 2003 shortly after graduating with her Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in the same year. She was a member of the university's academic staff as Assistant Lecturer in Linguistics and subsequently as Lecturer in Linguistics in the Department of English (Literature and Linguistics) from 2003 to 2005 and 2005 to 2011 respectively. Tanya Ekanayaka is currently on the teaching faculty of Edinburgh University in Scotland where she has been teaching part-time in both its Departments of Linguistics and Music since 2007.
In 2010, Tanya Ekanayaka became the first Sri Lankan pianist to be invited to give a solo piano recital in the 'Pianists of the World' series at the world renowned recital venue, London’s St Martin-in-the-Fields. One of the oldest recital series of St Martin-in-the-Fields having been founded by the legendary Dame Myra Hess, Tanya Ekanayaka’s programme concluded with the world première of her composition 'Adahas: of Wings of Roots' which represents the first composition by a Sri Lankan composer to be performed at this venue. This composition is an example of the distinguishing feature of Tanya Ekanayaka’s recitals.
Among other recitals, 2012 saw Tanya Ekanayaka debut in the USA on 31st May with a solo recital at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC (USA) following an invitation by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and a performance at the Asia Society Concert Hall in New York in June. Performing to a capacity audience (the audience reportedly among the largest observed at this particular concert stage), Tanya Ekanayaka's programme for her recital at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts incorporated the world première of two of her own compositions which are the first compositions for the piano by a Sri Lankan composer to be performed at this venue. Tanya Ekanayaka also gave a highly acclaimed second solo recital at London's St. Martin-in-the-Fields in November 2012, also to a capacity audience, following an invitation by St. Martin-in-the-Fields.