Dinesh Subasinghe

Dinesh Subasinghe

Dinesh Subasinghe
Born (1979-07-10) 10 July 1979
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Genres Film score, classical, Buddhist music, Alternative rock, religious music, pop music, Celtic music, Folk music, Sri Lankan Passion plays
Occupation(s) Composer, violinist, music arranger, music producer, music director, actor
Instruments Violin, Ravanahatha, Guitar, Mandolin, Kingri, Ekthar, Banjo
Years active 1998–present
Labels M entertainment

Dinesh Subasinghe (born 10 July 1979, Colombo) is a composer, violinist and music producer from Sri Lanka. He composed Karuna Nadee, a Buddhist oratorio, and re-introduced a lost ancient musical instrument known as the ravanahatha to Sri Lanka.,[1][2][3] He is also a film and television composer whose works integrate western and eastern classical music with electronic music, Buddhist music, Folk music, traditional orchestral arrangements, and world music genres. From 2002 to 2009 he led the pop classical band, Dee R Cee Members.

Early life

Born in Negombo, Sri Lanka in 1979, Subasinghe studied at St Peter's College, Colombo and Maris Stella College in Negombo. He began playing music at a very young age. He has studied music under Samantha Amarajeewa and Janaki Disanayaka, Christal Luduwike, Patrick Master from his school and city. Then he moved to learn from well-known professors in Sri Lankan music (B. Victor Perera, Mahinda Senivirathan, Ashoka Jayawardhana and Kalani Perera and Ananda Perera).

In 2001 Subasinghe started learning western classical music under Hasini Halpe (daughter of Briget and Ashly Halpe), Annada Dabare and Decibel Fernando (mother of Sri Lankan hip hop artist Chinthy). He has learned mandolin and guitar from V. Hemapala Perera and Kalana Desilva. In the beginning Subasinghe did a lot of hard work to earn money to fund expenses for his deep studies and to get many lessons with many teachers. Some teachers helped him a lot with free lessons in his younger days. He performed in tourist hotels as a calypso musician; later he joined regional beat bands and performed in night clubs and weddings and parties to earn money to continue his studies in music.

Sri Lankan vocalist, Angeline Gunathilaka, and journalist, Hemanalin Karunarathna (chairmen of HTV), introduced him to the Sri Lankan electronic media in 2001 soon after he became a member of Sri Lankan composer Stanley Peiris's orchestra in 2000.[4][5] Subasinghe worked under the Sri Lankan composer Premasiri Khemadasa for eight years and led the orchestra for Khemdasa's opera Agni (2007–2008). From 2001 to 2005 he as a member of Sri Lankan musical groups led by Dumindu Kadigamuwa and Harsha Bulathsinghala and Janananth Warakagoda and Dilup Gabadamudalige.[6][7]

He began composing for television and film in 2004 when cinema director, Chandrathna Mapitigama, selected him to compose music for his television series Hummane.[8] In 2009 he received a scholarship from President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka to study music under A. R. Rahman at the KM Music Conservatory in India.[9] At the conservatory, he won the Best Student Award in the instrumental section for violin.[10][11][12]


Classical music

Subasinghe has composed the Buddhist oratorio, Karuna Nadee,[13] as well as a symphony, trio, sonata, two a cappella pieces, a string quartet, a concerto for trumpet and a piece for viola, The Dance of Salome. His string quartet, Night Before The Battle, was selected by Joel Thome's Orchestra of our Time from 100 compositions from the world.[14] He has composed music for 47 Sri Lankan television series, 11 films, and 16 stage plays. He has re-introduced the ancient instrument Ravanahatha to Sri Lankan electronic media for the first time.[15]

Subasinghe was the first Sri Lankan to write a cappella pieces on Sri Lankan national themes for SATB choirs, including The Princes of the Lost Tribe for Menaka De Shabandu's choir and Ancient Queen of Somawathee for Bridget Halpe's choir. These works were based on historical incidents described in Mahawansa. The style of these compositions uses different harmonies and a sound which is differentiated from the Western classical music traditions.[16][17][18]

Alternative rock music

Subasinghe led the alternative rock music band, Dee R Cee Members and introduced rock music into several Sri Lankan television series.[19] Later, he composed music for Hithata Wahal wimi and Sarangana, television dramas for Sirasa TV. Subasinghe is the first rock violin performer in Sri Lanka to combine Asian music techniques with rock music and has performed at the Share the Love concert in 2011 and on Rupavahini in February 2013 with the song Ra Roo.[19]

YouTube record

Subasinghe has released a record-breaking alternative-rock song "E Kale: The One" with Charmika Sirimanne and Ranushka Fernando in 2013, along with a video for this song, created by Ranushka Fernando.[20] It has become the Highest viewed SriLankan music video on YouTube and reached more than 1.6 million viewers.[21]

Musician, music director, actor

Subasinghe has played as a musician for 70 local and international music directors and composers and with the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka from 2003 to 2005. He was also a member of the South Indian Cinema Musicians Union. He has released four CDs (Rawan Nada, Feel My Heart, Sihina Wasanthayak soundtrack, and Karuna Nadee).[22] Dinesh has worked with his former Principle A.R.Rahman & Katrina Kaif on Rhyme Skool with Katrina Kaif Produced by Sa Re Ga Ma Productions in India in 2009–2010.

He won Best Music Director at the 2009 Sri Lankan SIGNIS Awards for a television version of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer ( Siri Sirimal) and Sumathi Awards in 2012 for Pinsara Dosthara (Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde)[23]

Subasinghe's first professional acting appearance was in Parapura by Cletus Menids in 2012. He also he performed a leading role on his music video E Kale: The One, and played King Herod Antipas in the 2013 Jesus television series by Prem Fernando.[24]

Dee R Cee

From 2002 to 2009 Subasinghe led the pop classical bands, Dee R Cee and Dinesh and Friends. The other member of Dee R Cee were singers Ranuka Sudam and Chandumal Samapriya.[6] Their music encompassed multiple genres, including pop, alternative rock, cinema music, Hindustan classical, country and western, baila and 1970s music. Hemanalin Karunarathne invited Dee R Cee members to direct music for several television programs in Swarnawahini (Hansa vila, Haa haa pura, Gee TV, Christmas night 2005).[25] Dee R Cee members also appeared on Sirasa TV and Derana TV providing music for Looks Like, Auto Plus, Mathra, Christmas programmes in 2006 and 2007, and a Valentine's Day programme.


In 2007, Subasinghe introduced the ancient instrument ravanahatha to Sri Lanka in his album Rawan Nada, comprising twelve instrumentals and background vocals. The Ravanahatha (ravanhatta, rawanhattha, ravanastron or ravana hasta veena) is a bowed fiddle popular in Western India. It is believed to have originated among the Hela civilisation of Sri Lanka in the time of King Ravana. The bowl is made of cut Coconut shell, the mouth of which is covered with goat hide. A dandi, made of bamboo, is attached to this shell. The principal strings are two: one of steel and the other of a set of horsehair. The long bow has jingle bells. The instrument was believed to be played by King Ravana himself and to have been the first stringed instrument played with a bow.[26][27] Subasinghe has proposed that the western violin evolved from the ravanahatha.[28] Ravana Nada is the first recording to include actual music played on the ravanahatha, although it had previously appeared in films as a visual item. In this CD Subasinghe performed a slighter different version of the instrument. He has also used this instrument for A. R. Rahman's Rhyme Skool with Katrina Kaif which was narrated by Katrina Kaif and for some Indian Tamil movies. In addition to the ravanahatha, Subasinghe is reviving another ancient bowed instrument called the kingiri.[29][30][30][31][32] in 2007 Subasinghe has tried to discover the similarity of Ravanstrong and Kingri string Instrument. He mentioned to electronic media that it has been mentioned in the old book of Abele and Niederheitmann translated by John Broadhouse (The Violin: Its History & Construction, Illustrated & described, From Many Sources) published by William Reeves in London between 1900 -1930. In the same year he requested from the Cultural minister Mahinda Yapa Abewardhana to give a section in his ministry to find the real history of Ravanahatha. He has shown the Importance of getting the attention of the world to Sri Lanka by claiming rights for this ancient fiddle.

Subasinghe's Ravanahatha version has been referred by Michael Ondaatje the Canadian novelist and poet who won the Booker Prize for his novel The English Patient, which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film. He has mentioned it as the mother of violin in the history,[33]

Buddha oratorio: Karuna Nadee

In 2010, Subasinghe composed Karuna Nadee (River of Kindness) an oratorio for chorus and orchestra based on the life of Buddha. According to the Sri Lankan newspaper The Daily Mirror, it is the first Buddhist oratorio and the first musical work based on Buddha's life and philosophy since Premasiri Khemadasa's cantata Pirinivan Mangalya, a requiem based on Buddha's Parinirvana.[13] However, the American composer Dudley Buck composed an oratorio on the life of Buddha, The Light of Asia, which was first performed in 1887.[34] Buddhist texts have also been incorporated into two other western oratorios, Somei Satoh's 1987 Stabat Mater and Jonathan Harvey's 2011 Weltethos.[35][36]

The oratorio consists of 12 pieces of music, and, according to the Sri Lanka Daily News, is composed in "Far Eastern, Sri Lankan, Indian, and Western classical styles". It also includes Buddhist chant in the background, as well as elements from Tibetan music and folk and pop genres.[37] It was his first major work since coming down for a break from the A. R. Rahman Academy in India.[38] Buddhist monk Athuraliye Rathana Thero and Negombo astrologer Ranushka Fernando contributed ideas to the conceptualisation of the work.[37][39] The work, with Subasinghe playing some of the music has been released on CD.[30][40][41][42]

Subasinghe participated in the Sadaham Sevana joint musical concert with Korea on 4 July 2011. He composed Mist of a Mountain, a tribute piece for Eastern Asia and has participated in many religious music projects around South Asia.[10][43][44]

Passion plays

Subasinghe has composed music for 16 Oberammergau Passion Play costumes for the first time in a Sri Lankan passion play. He has since continued his involvement with the Aho mage senageni project.

In 2008, Subasinghe composed music for audio remake of the 1970s Katu Otunna stage drama audio CD and Duwa historic passion play which is based on the story of Jesus and was directed by Clement Fernadao. All of the main folk tunes in this play were sung by the Sri Lankan female vocalist, Nanda Malini. He has included many western vocalists and choirs and classical musicians in this creations to Enhance the Christian Orchestral Sounds with Folk music. In 2012, 18 cinema and television stars in Sri Lanka participated in the passion play Sri Kurusawalokanaya Thambakanda, which was produced by Pream Fernanado and directed by Peter Wellambage with music by Subasinghe. Jeewan Kumaranatunga played the role of Jesus. In 2013, Subasinghe composed music for the passion play in St Anthony's Church in Dalupotha, Negombo.

Subasinghe composed the music for the 2013 television film based on the life of Jesus, Jesu Christu Yuga Peraliya, produced by Prem Fernando. He also served as assistant director and script editor, and played the role of Herod Antipas. Jewan Kumarathunga played the role of Jesus while Ravindra Randeniya played Pontius Pilate. More than 25 Sri Lankan cinema and television stars participated the project.


  • Best Music Golden Award at the Sri Lanka Signis Awards 2009 for Siri Sirimal[45]
  • Best Music Director Award at the Sumathi Tele Awards 2012 for Pinsara Dosthara[46][47]
  • Special Award at the Light of Asia Foundation Buddhist Film Festival 2011 for the Buddha oratorio Karuna Nadee


Subasinghe has composed music for 63 teledramas, 13 movie scores, 16 stage plays, 8 documentaries and 14 audio albums etc. Subasinghe has become the youngest composer to write 60 teledrama scores for Sri Lankan TV media. Subasinghe received the 2012 best music director Sumathi award for his creations in 'Pinsara Dosthara' became the youngest to receive the prestigious award in the 18-year history of Sumathi Awards.


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  2. ^ Sir Ondaatje, Christopher (2 June 2013). "Sri Lanka’s Ravanahatha is the world’s first violin".The Sunday TimesRetrieved 1 August 2013.
  3. ^ Devapriya, Uditha (19 January 2014)."A musical missionary".Ceylon Today. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
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  45. ^ Ismail, Adilah (3 January 2010). "Hitting the high notes". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 5 May 2013
  46. ^ Jayawardana, Ruwini (19 December 2012). "Dinesh takes a bow". Daily News. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  47. ^ http://www.sumathiawards.lk/achive/2012.html

External links

  • Dinesh Subasinghe at the Internet Movie Database
  • Profile at music.lk
  • Profile at National Film Corporation
  • Srilankan Cinema Data Base
  • Cinema.lk