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
“One begins to wonder if she is perhaps the Keith Jarrett of the subcontinent.”Alex Baran, The WholeNote, November 2015
“Transmuting re-imaginings of traditional Sri Lankan melodies through the creative prism of the Western classical tradition, Ekanayaka’s semi-extemporisations vividly recall the golden age of musical ‘reminiscences’.”© Julian Hayes, BBC Music Magazine, October 2015
“Melodic fragments of great beauty float through this music…”International Piano, November 2015
“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 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 Department of Music, University of Edinburgh, UK
NAXOS (Grand Piano Label) recording artiste and composer, Dr. Tanya Ekanayaka (PhD, MSc, FTCL, LRSM, LGSMD-PPD, BA-Honours) is one of Sri Lanka's foremost, 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. 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 just five years old, made her debut public recital appearance at the age of twelve and has since given solo recitals at renowned international concert venues in Asia, Europe and the United States.
What characterizes Tanya Ekanayaka as a recitalist is her quintessential recital style. Her recitals incorporate her own compositions representing a new and exciting musical genre as well as works from the established classical repertoire ranging from baroque to contemporary works. Her compositions comprise the integration of unusual adaptations of melodies belonging to Sri Lankan indigenous and popular musics (many of which have not been adapted for the piano or harmonised), with musical motifs inspired by the tonal centres of the other compositions that form a given recital programme she is performing. In this sense, each of Tanya Ekanayaka’s compositions may be seen as re-presenting her indigenous culture while seeking to highlight connectivity between the different works of a concert programme in which one of her works might be incorporated. Overall, her recitals become a discourse where the merging of genres (such as, genres of classical music with popular and folk musics), as well as eras is facilitated. Tanya Ekanayaka’s compositions evolve spontaneously often as a whole when she is at the piano.
Tanya Ekanayaka has been contracted with NAXOS (Grand Piano Label), the world's second largest classical music record label since August 2014. On 30th March 2015, this label began launching worldwide, her debut album of compositions for solo piano composed and performed by her, titled 'REINVENTIONS: RHAPSODIES FOR PIANO'.
This album introduces the musical genre developed by Tanya Ekanayaka and also represents the first album of compositions entirely by a Sri Lankan composer to ever be launched globally by a major record label.
Her compositions have been featured on international media such as BBC World Radio and BBC World News Television as part of exclusive interviews.
Tanya Ekanayaka is on the teaching faculty of Edinburgh University in Scotland where she has taught part-time in both its Departments of Linguistics and Music since 2007.
Since 2012, Tanya Ekanayaka has also been developing a pioneering and so far highly successful music composition project on a purely voluntary basis aimed at empowering traumatised as well as underprivileged Sri Lankan children and youth recovering from the civil war that ravaged the nation for over thirty years.
Recent interview on BBC World Global News Television: