One of the most rewarding aspects of following an artist’s career is watching them flourish judging by how most affiliates react to their performances.
Dilukshi Sirimane has been on our music scene for a long time, sitting at the piano stool and delighting audiences with his melodic interpretation of tunes, no matter what category of music they belong to. In short, the categories are wide and she succeeds while concentrating on her daily administrative tasks.
With an LLB behind her name, she is a lawyer who has worked in intergovernmental and commercial institutions, has been a host at SLBC for its domestic and Asian services and has also lent her voice to Capital Radio. A familiar figure in the Barefoot Band when the musicians fall on Sunday afternoons, Dilukshi performs as a freelance whenever selective musicians ask for his expertise. Over a cup of coffee, it was good to meet her and have her precious advice on many musical reflections.
Question: I’m curious, where did it all start for you, this keen interest in music and playing the piano with such expertise?
From an early age, I developed a keen interest in the piano. We had a piano at home and I used to play one-note melodic lines, after which I could play with both hands to ear. I was fortunate to have a father who played the piano and our home was filled with music. Unfortunately, I did not receive classical music lessons because my sister had a piano teacher who would hit her on the fingers if a bad note was played and my father interrupted all piano lessons. As a Supreme Court judge, his decisions were always final.
He will be remembered by the older generation as DQM Sirimane, who after his retirement also served as Lake House’s legal director.
Question: They say that the main job of a pianist is to play single note chords in the right hand while tightening the chords with the left hand. We’ve come a long way since that conclusion, haven’t we?
While partially agreeing, my personal view is that each piece should be enjoyed differently and the old standard cannot be strictly adhered to all the time. In the context, some are of the opinion that the standards are not suitable to be played in jazz mode.
I know that Chucho Valvez in a live performance at Village Vanguard, released later on record, turned “My Funny Valentine” into a searing bossa nova. Your view?
Any musician has the right to interpret and play any song in the way he wishes. There are no hard and fast rules – jazz is all about improvisation and a discerning listener will appreciate this musician’s work. Jazz has evolved through the ages. There was dixie, mainstream, swing, modern, funk and fusion and it is the only music that enshrines the concept of freedom of expression for humanity.
Question: As a musician, are you worried about the next gig you have to play?
I have no anxiety or worry about playing anywhere, anytime because I know I am equipped enough to meet the demands of any event.
You have performed with top musicians here in Sri Lanka. How are you feeling and what else could you wish for. Is there something else you’d like to do next, something you’ve always wanted to do but never got to do?
I gratefully acknowledge the experience I have gained from playing with renowned musicians. In the future, I would like to play with a larger group of musicians almost reproducing the sounds of big bands. I have performed in India, Macau, Maldives with Sri Lankans and it was heartwarming to see that the international audience appreciates if the product is good. Playing in a group is team spirit and teamwork that requires discipline and cooperation from members, while showcasing the strength of each musician in an appropriate way.
Question: When and how did jazz enter your experience?
“Very young, I worked as a succession advertiser at SLBC. Here I was exposed to all types of music. Having compiled several programs for broadcast, the job of listening has played a very important role in my musical preferences. I developed a keen interest in jazz influenced to a large extent by Tommy Perera’s weekly jazz show Down Beat on SLBC.
I have experienced Motown, Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Disco, Rap but the kind of music I love the most is jazz.
Chick Corea once said “Music can bring us together”. And the general opinion is that music is a form of social activism – provides values to society to end violence, helps people focus and relate to others from different cultures. Your comment?
Music is therapeutic and many studies have shown it to be an effective treatment for a variety of conditions. All forms of music throughout the ages have tried to propagate the messages of non-violence, peace and harmony between men, as witnessed by Woodstock, songs by Bob Marley, Joe Cocker and even some rock bands. I agree with Chick Corea’s comment. Music is a universal language and brings people together. In my experience, every musician is unique and has something to offer that enhances all types of music.