Vijith Kumar Senaratne mentions Vernon Corea in his new book ‘Rasa Mathaka Asiriya,’ published in Sri Lanka


Sri Lankan author Vijith Kumar Senaratne has mentioned Vernon Corea in his new book ‘Rasa Mathaka Asiriya,’ published in Colombo, Sri Lanka.


The Daily Mirror newspaper of Sri Lanka also mentioned this in a feature by Gamini Akmeemana, published on the 7th of March 2017. Here is the article:

“Rasa Mathaka Asiriya” by Vijith Kumar Senaratne is an absorbing collection of essays on a number of professionals in spheres as diverse as photography, broadcasting, teaching, music and the plastic arts.    While some of the faces in this galaxy are well known, others have hardly ever been known to the general public. Composer Premasiri Khemadasa is a known face but few would have heard of sitarist Piyadasa Athukorala, who performed in almost every major concert in the 60s and 70s including Victor Ratanayake’s Sa, and contributed those unforgettable opening melodic refrains of the song ‘Sinidu Sudumudu Thalawe’ from the film ‘Sath Samudura.’

Author Senaratne, with two previous books to his credit including one on pioneer singer Sunil Santha, has researched extensively his subjects and their careers, thereby bringing out a plethora of fascinating detail.    In the meandering tone of a natural story teller who loves telling his stories, Senaratne mentions that Sunil Santha gave away his thriving music class to young Amaradeva at a time when he himself was quite short of money. Or that Leela, Sunil’s wife, saved a couple of Tamil neighbours from a mob during the July 1983 riots, and that she died holding the hand of her old friend Dr. Thilokasundari kariyasasam.    Sitarist Athukorala went on his father’s shoulders to see Rabindranath Tagore lay the foundation stone for the Sri Pali school in Horana. Photographer and film producer Chitra Balasuriya’s Chitra Studio in Gampaha was a haven for actors and musicians, paving the way for films such as Parasathu Mal and Thunman Handiya.

The career of flutist Weerasena Pieris, whose mellifluous tones can be heard in songs such as W. D. Amaradeva’s Pipunu Kusuma and Victor Ratnayake’s Thotupola Aiye, was cut short when he was attacked with a knife as a political reprisal. Announcer Gunathunga K. Liyanage pioneered the broadcasting of Hindi songs on SLBC’s Sinhala commercial service, introduced direct phoning during live programmes into Sinhala medium broadcasting, allowing scholar Edwin Ariyadasa to comment directly while news of man’s first steps on the moon were being broadcast.

Palitha Perera, better known for his cricket commentaries, was put in charge of SLBC’s first FM Broadcast ‘City FM.’

When it comes to the teaching profession, Maya Abeywickrema rendered invaluable services as a music teacher, widening the scope of Western music education in our schools and initiated the National Youth Orchestra, producing many fine Western classical musicians. Prof. J. B. Dissanayake made the study of Sinhala an attractive proposition and wrote books in English for those studying it as a second language.

Hemapala Perera, adept protagonist of the mandolin and tabla though better known for flute playng, went blind at a tender age due to a botched innoculation. Nimal Mendis, composer of ‘Master Sir’ and ‘Ganga Addara’, wrote and performed the music with his UK band for songs by British jazz singer Mary Marshall. Mendis and his wife Ranjani made several documentaries too, including Dawn of Terror and Stop Killing, Start Singing.

Singer Irene Malini Ranasinghe, now largely forgotten, comes live in these pages. She made her mark as a playback singer in the films “Mee Messo” and “Arunata Pera.” Singer Wasantha Sandanayake was actively involved in film making, working in films such as ‘Wahal Dupatha’ and entertaining people with Tamil songs whenever the film locations were in the hills.

“Rasa Mathaka Asiriya” is an absorbing collection of essays on a number of professionals in spheres as diverse as photography, broadcasting, teaching, music and the plastic arts”

Narada Disasekara, though he became one of our best known singers in the 60s, studied science and joined the SLBC as a recording technician, achieving such fame in that profession that he recorded Ravi Shankar and was sought out by Sunil Santha to record his lament when PM S. W. R. D. Bandarnaike was killed. Narada got his break as a singer in the film ‘Sikuru Tharuwa’ thanks to film star Punya Heendeniya, who convinced music director R. Muttiswamy to give him a chance to sing. Some of M. S. Fernando’s slower songs such as ‘Bola Bola Meti’ came out of a creative necessity, due to a SLBC ban on fast rhythms during the Ridgeway Thilakaratne era.

Radio announcer Elmo Fernando was so enamoured as a schoolboy by Prosper Fernando’s Hindi songs programme that he habitually ran 15 minutes from home to school after hearing it to the end. SLBC’s Vernon Corea noticed this young enthusiast and handed him over to Karunaratne Abeysekara who took him under his wing. In the same era, prolific musician and multi-instrumentalist Douglas Ferndinands lived in a house along Park Road, Havelock Town, which was more recently occupied by politician Douglas Devananda.

The book is filled with many such anecdotes and reminiscences.

Published by Agahas Prakashakayo, 717/2, Madinnagoda, Rajagiriya, the book is available at leading bookshops including Sarasavi, Gunasena, Sooriya, Vijitha Yapa and Surasa Maradana.   


BBC Presenter Ashanti Omkar mentions Vernon Corea on her BBC radio show

BBC Presenter Ashanti Omkar mentioned Vernon Corea on her radio programme.

BBC Presenter Ashanti Omkar mentioned Vernon Corea on her radio programme.

The BBC Radio Asian Network logo.

The BBC Radio Asian Network logo.

Vernon Corea with Nimal Mendis and family in the 1980s in Wimbledon Village.

Vernon Corea with Nimal Mendis and family in the 1980s in Wimbledon Village.

Vernon Corea was remembered on a BBC radio programme 13 years after he passed away in New Malden in Surrey. Vernon was the BBC’s Ethnic Minorities Adviser and presenter of the iconic BBC radio programme ‘London Souths Eastern,’ produced by the legendary Keith Yeomans. Vernon pioneered the way at the BBC resulting in the BBC Asian Network. He trained BME broadcasters for 22 BBC local radio stations in the 1970s and 1980s.

Ashanti Omkar, the BBC radio presenter mentioned Vernon Core on her radio show on the BBC Asian Network. She also talked about the great Sri Lankan singer song writer Nimal Mendis who recently passed away in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Ashanti also played Nimal’s classic hit ‘Master Sir,’ sung by Bathiya and Santhush. She tweeted Vernon’s name on her BBC twitter account.

Legendary Singer/Songwriter Nimal Mendis at Vernon Corea’s Memorial Service

The legendary Sri Lankan singer/songwriter Nimal Mendis of ‘Master Sir,’ ‘Ganga Addara’ fame sings ‘Light Floods In’ at the Memorial Service to Vernon Corea on Saturday 29th September 2012 at St. Paul’s Church, Milagiriya, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The Music of Bathiya & Santhush

Bathiya and Santhush are two of South Asia’s biggest pop stars. They are fronting several advertising campaigns including one for the Maliban brand.

Bathiya and Santhush, Brand Ambassadors for Maliban Biscuits – Vernon Corea devised and presented the iconic Maliban Show radio programme on Radio Ceylon in the 1960s. It was a huge success.

It so happens that in the 1960s Vernon presented the hugely popular Maliban Talent Contest also know as the Maliban Show and the Maliban Bandwagon over the airwaves of Radio Ceylon. Vernon devised the Maliban Show and it went on to enjoy ratings success on Radio Ceylon. Vernon has his trademark gimmickof throwing packets of Maliban biscuits to the audience – he travelled all over Sri Lanka with the Maliban Show.

Bathiya and Santhush released a message on Vernon Corea to mark his 10th Death Anniversary.

Bathiya and Santhush said:

‘We are sorry we are unable to be at the Memorial Service to Vernon Corea as we are touring Sri Lanka in connection with the T20 cricket series, but we want to pause and remember a son of Sri Lanka who has made a significant contribution to broadcasting in our country. Vernon created history by introducing Sinhala music on the English Services of Radio Ceylon/SLBC. As musicians of the current generation we can see it as a pivotal moment in broadcasting and to the advancement of music in Sri Lanka. Vernon together with his cousins Sangabo Corea and Vijaya Corea are known throught the land and in South Asia as the ‘Godfathers of Sinhala popular music.’ For this we want to say ‘thank you’ to Vernon Corea for his wholehearted support to musicians from our country and to the music industry – he helped and supported them all when he was a broadcaster with Radio Ceylon and the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. He was in the forefront of pioneering shows – it is now that people are realising that Vernon’s ‘Maliban Show’ on Radio Ceylon in the 1960s was the ‘X Factor’ of the day – he found new Sri Lankan talent and even mentored some of them. Distinguished broadcasters like Vernon Corea have been a tower of strength to our country’s music industry.’

Here are some films on youtube on the music of Bathiya and Santhush:

Award Winning Singer/Songwriter Nimal Mendis to speak at Vernon Corea’s Memorial Service at St. Paul’s Milagiriya

The award winning singer/songwriter Nimal Mendis of ‘Master Sir’ fame will speak about Vernon Corea and sing his compositions at the Memorial Service for Vernon Corea at St Paul’s Milagiriya.

The highly respected Sri Lankan singer/songwriter, Nimal Mendis will speak about Vernon Corea and sing his compositions at the Memorial Service for Vernon Corea marking his 10th Death Anniversary on Saturday 29th September 2012 at 5 p.m. Vernon promoted Nimal in the 1950s before Nimal became an international star.

Nimal Mendis in the 1950s, Radio Ceylon promoted his music from the 1950s.

Memorial Service for Vernon Corea at St.Paul’s Church Milagiriya – Saturday 29th September 2012 at 5 pm

Vernon Corea (1927 – 2002)

A Memorial Service for the legendary Radio Ceylon/Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and BBC Broadcaster Vernon Corea will be held on Saturday 29th September 2012 at 5 p.m.

Vernon Corea had a career of 45 years of public service broadcasting in Sri Lanka and in the United Kingdom. He was a pioneer – he joined Radio Ceylon as a Relief Announcer in 1956 and when he left the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation asDirector News. He was the BBC’s FIRST EVER Ethnic Minorities Adviser and the first Asian to be appointed to Senior Management at the Corporation. Vernon Corea also presented the historic and hugely popular ‘London Sounds Eastern’ on BBC Radio London.

The Speaker at Vernon Corea’s Memorial Service will be Dr. Vijaya Corea, Sri Lanka’s Number one media personality and former Director-General of te Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. The award winning Sri Lankan singer/songwriter of ‘Master Sir’ fame Nimal Mendis will be speaking and singing his compositions.

Refreshments will be served after the service. All are welcome.

For further information:

Radio Ceylon and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Broadcaster Vernon Corea’s Memorial Service marking his 10th Death Anniversary will be held at St. Paul’s Church Milagiriya on Saturday 29th September 2012 at 5 p.m.

St.Paul’s Church Milagiriya in Colombo Sri Lanka will host Vernon Corea’s Memorial Service.

Vernon Corea’s father, Reverend Canon Ivan Corea was Vicar of St. Paul’s Church Milagiriya from 1954 – 1961.

This is a portrait of Jesus Christ washing the feet of his disciples hangs in St.Paul’s Church, Milagiriya.

The altar at St. Paul’s Church Milagiriya

The Courtyard of St.Paul’s Church Milagiriya