Tribute to Maestro Premasiri Khemadasa

Veteran music maestro Dr. Premasiri Khemadasa passed away at a private hospital yesterday evening.

The internationally acclaimed musician and award winning composer was 71 years old at the time of his death.

Having undergone a kidney transplant several years ago, Khemadasa Master returned to music direction and created music for several films, teledramas and the opera ‘Agni’ which toured the country. Dr. Khemadasa is the only known Sri Lankan musician who created opera and operatic music.

Master was influential in introducing a unique music style to Sri Lankan cinema and he also pioneered the opera format to Sri Lankan music and performing arts.  

Born and bred in Talpitiya, Wadduwa, Khemadasa attended Sri Sumangala Vidyalaya and St. John’s College, Panadura. Dr. Khemadasa started his career as a flutist in Radio Ceylon and later took up music. 

Khemadasa’s debut as a film composer came with Sirisena Wimalaweera’s ‘Roddie Kella’ and  collaborating with acclaimed director Lester James Peries. The music he directed for films like ‘Golu Hadawatha’ and ‘Nidhanaya’ were significant in the country’s film music scene.  A self taught brilliant musician, explored various styles of music around the world and he combined Sinhala folk tunes, Hindustani music, Western music and many other streams of music in his compositions while adapting them to fit contemporary music.

Dr. Khemadasa shared his music knowledge freely with a large number of young and talented pupils whom he had picked up mostly from rural areas and trained them to international standard. 

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