Biography

One of the world's foremost South Asian woman composer-pianists with a pioneering portfolio of published works for solo piano to her name, and composing exclusively for solo piano, (and since recent years performing only her own works for solo piano), Tanya Ekanayaka is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning Sri Lankan-British composer-pianist and scholar. Classically trained and with an interdisciplinary background in Asian and Popular music, she is also a linguist, musicologist and record producer.

Influenced by her multifaceted background, multilingualism, ambidexterity and partial colour synaesthesia, a unique feature of Ekanayaka’s works which evolve when she is at the piano (and at times in her dreams), is that they are precisely frozen in her memory once evolved, and as such remain entirely unscored. Ekanayaka’s works represent novel and invigorating musical genres inspired by melodies belonging to a wide range of ancient, folk and popular music traditions both of her homeland Sri Lanka and countries around the world.

Overall, her music reflects emerging discourses between musical genres, styles and periods. Often the first Sri Lankan compositions to be performed at première international concert venues Ekanayaka's works have also been featured on an array of international media such as BBC Radio World Service, BBC Radio Asian Network, BBC Radio 3, BBC World News Television, BBC Radioplayer, Naxos Classical Spotlight, New York Public Radio, Japanese Broadcasting Radio (NHK) and Australian National Radio.

Her solo albums of her own compositions for solo piano performed and produced by her titled ‘Reinventions: Rhapsodies for Piano’, ‘Twelve Piano Prisms’ and 'The Planets & Humanity - Piano Reflections' were launched worldwide by Naxos Records (Grand Piano Records) in 2015, 2018 and 2021, respectively. Her debut album 'Reinventions: Rhapsodies for Piano' represents a historical first as the first album of original works by a Sri Lankan composer to ever be released worldwide by an international record label.

Her composition ‘Adahas: Of Wings Of Roots’ is also featured in the Naxos Records box-set ‘The Key Collection: Three Centuries of Rare Keyboard Gems’ released in 2017. Comprising twelve interconnected works which have been streamed across over 170 countries, her album ‘Twelve Piano Prisms’ was named one of the top 100 albums of 2018.

Collectively, Ekanayaka’s three solo albums incorporate reinventions of all 18 Sri Lankan vannams (an ancient set of dances dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries) and trans-created echoes of traditional and folk melodies of peoples of Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Norway, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and the United States, the majority of which have never been previously harmonised or referenced through the piano.

Between 2012 and 2014 Ekanayaka developed a music composition project on a voluntary basis aimed at empowering traumatised as well as underprivileged Sri Lankan children and youth recovering from the civil war which ravaged the nation for over thirty years.

Consistent with her interdisciplinary background, she holds a doctorate for interdisciplinary research involving Linguistics and Musicology from The University of Edinburgh, where she has also been engaged part time in academic teaching since 2007, as well as advanced academic and professional qualifications in Music Performance, Linguistics and Literature.

Photograph - Nadine Ishaq

Share


Tanya Ekanayaka

Location 
Edinburgh , Midlothian
United Kingdom
55° 57' 11.7072" N, 3° 11' 17.7612" W
Midlothian GB