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.