Blending music — Denipitiya family tradition
THE SRI LANKA REPORTER
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
Blending the rhythms of Karnatic, Raaga and Jana Kavi (Folk Poetry) with Western instruments has become popular in Sri Lanka, a concept that would have been unthinkable in the past. According to fusion musician Mahesh Denipitiya, blending has always been part of music-making in Sri Lanka.
“You always have to experiment,” he told the Sri Lanka Reporter earlier this year in Toronto. “A musician is a scientist.”
Mahesh is the son of veteran Sri Lankan musician Patrick Denipitiya, who famously introduced the Hawaiian guitar to the country’s music scene decades ago. Musicians ranging from W.D. Amaradeva to Sunil Shantha have all introduced some form of fusion in their work, Denipitiya said.
Denipitiya is the leader of MAFF (Mahesh Denipitiya and Friends in Fusion), a band that can blend “flavours” of light Jazz, Oriental, Hindi, Latin, with the use of electric violin, acoustic piano and traditional Sri Lankan drums. An old boy of St. Peters College Colombo, Denipitiya is a highly qualified computer hardware engineer but he gave up his career and answered his true calling to become a full-time musician in 2002.
The decision paid off. He designed and built his own recording studio in his Colombo home where he can comfortably produce music for blockbuster movies and jingles for advertising campaigns.
At the tender age of 12, Mahesh started as a guitarist in his father’s band and has backed all the leading musicians in Sri Lanka from Rukmani Devi, Jothipala to Bathiya and S a n t h u s h . Denipitiya is also a music director for Sirasa Super Stars (Sri Lanka’s version of American Idol), the most viewed television show in the island’s history.
Music has now entered the third generation of the Denipitiya family. His son, Eshan, 14, an accomplished pianist, won the instrumental category in the Sri Lankan Life television program on Rupavahini for his fusion performance with traditional Sri Lankan drummer Nupathi Geegnage. Denipitiya is married to Nadika, a chartered architect. They have a daughter Dilani, 17, and son Eshan. His parents
Patrick and Celcie reside in Brampton Ontario, Canada.