Tanya Ekanayaka Pianist And Composer “Successful Notes”
Dr Tanya Ekanayaka is an internationally acclaimed Sri Lankan concert pianist and composer.
She spreads the magic of the piano among music enthusiasts. Sri Lankan born international concert composer-pianist, record producer, improviser, musicologist and linguist Dr Tanya Ekanayaka is known to bring diverse classical works, cultures and genres of music together in her work.
A recording artiste, composer and producer for Naxos Records, the world’s second largest music classical record label, Tanya Ekanayaka was lured to music at a tender age. Growing up in a home that was heavily inclined towards western classical music she was introduced to the piano by her mother, Indira Ekanayaka, when she was five years old. Her debut public recital appearance was when she was 12 years and she performed her first concerto (Mozart’s Piano Concerto K.488) at 16 with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka as the joint winner and the youngest competitor of the SOSL biennial concerto competition.
“My love for the piano grew over the years as I came to spend many hours with the instrument on a daily basis. I can still recall how as a child I would run my tiny hands which were yet incapable of controlling the keyboard over the entire keyboard imagining I could play incredibly challenging and beautiful music effortlessly,” Tanya recalled.
She continued to engage in piano practices in a private studio during her postgraduate years at the University of Edinburgh. Another member of the music department recognized her potentials and set her on her career in piano performance. After performing at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in 2010, Tanya Ekanayaka has performed in some of the world’s most prestigious stages in the US, UK, Europe and Asia. Speaking about what drew her to the field of musicology Tanya Tanya Ekanayaka says, “I think it was something of a natural progression from an early age leading to my doctoral research and underlying the musical styles which I have developed through my own compositions. Suffice to say that I have always been interested in exploring the relationship between musical structures and their respective socio-cultural, political and historical contexts through which they evolve and in which they are straddled.”
She notes that music has been in her blood for as long as she can remember. It is more of a ‘first love’ in a sense.
“However, it was never the case that I consciously aspired to build a career in music as a young teenager. I was passionate about music and was performing publicly by the age of 12. During my life in Sri Lanka the country suffered from terrorism until I turned 29 and looking back I realize that evolving music was how I sought ‘hope’ in an atmosphere of hopelessness and loss resultant of the awful violence in which Sri Lanka was engulfed. Yet a career in music seemed but a distant dream best left as a dream, as it were. My mother encouraged me to develop an academic career while developing my musical skills alongside it. This was how I ended up also specializing in theoretical and socio-linguistics. Strange as it may seem, the kind of thinking I developed through the process of my training in Linguistics has played a pivotal role in the evolution of my compositional style conceptually,” she mused.
She notes that whatever success she has had internationally might owe to her sense of creative purpose which involves creating music which she believes in and enjoys. This in turn, she hopes, will be a source of enjoyment to others.
“Similarly, whatever unique qualities my music may purportedly possess pivot on the fact that I am uninfluenced by musical ‘trends’ which do not inspire me from a creative perspective,” Tanya explained. Tanya has the first album of compositions done entirely by a Sri Lankan composer to ever be launched by a major record label to her name. Her maiden album ‘Reinventions: Rhapsodies for Piano’ was represented by Naxos Records (Grand Piano) since 2014. She says that she has faced many hurdles in her life, each which is equally challenging in its own way. According to her opinion inspiration and an intuitive sensibility are necessary attributes to becoming a good composer in addition to possessing a sensitive perfectionist temperament and solid grounding in core skills.
“Music composition across many genres globally has always tended to be a male dominated field. As for myself, I would say that my identity as a woman resides at the heart of my music as perhaps reflected in the fact that my music contains autobiographical narratives in musical language arguably analogous to ‘mirrors’ of my life led as a woman,” she said.
“Give yourself space to grow, be courageous, humble and passionate while doing all that you can, with integrity, to ensure that you cultivate a discerning mind together with essential skills to become an expert in your chosen field,” is her advice to young women who wish to follow a profession in the field of music as composers/ instrumentalists.
Tanya’s second solo album of her own works for solo piano performed and produced by her and recorded by a gifted recording engineer at The University of Edinburgh is expected to be released worldwide by Naxos Records in the ensuing months. The album evolved between 2016 and 2017 and presents two concepts, one being an extension of a previous concept she introduced in her debut album. Her second album contains entirely new compostitions.