Jananath heart of Sri Lankan rhythm
Jananath is a percussion artiste, the most
exuberant one among the handful who has an innate passion for the
rhythm, that's essentially Sri Lankan. Today Zest breaks in to his
rhythmic orbit with a barrage of questions to find out his mettle and
Q: How do you describe the profession of a percussion artiste?
A: Percussion artiste is a professional who plays rhythms
using instruments. I believe that these rhythms are inherent within you.
You bring it to the world along with you at birth. If you don't have
these rhythms within your body, you wont be able to bring it out. In Sri
Lanka, we are lucky to have a lot of percussion instruments of our own,
which gives rise to creativity experiencing a whole complexity of
rhythms. The basic rhythm system is similar in any country. Yet
especially in South Indian music, one finds exceptionally refined rhythm
levels in comparison to the whole world.
I had the chance to study the Indian Thabla and also a few more of
their other instruments. Piyasara Shilpadipathi was my first Guru in Sri
Lankan percussion instruments. Kalashoori Panee Baratha lifted me to the
next level training me on my subject. My soul-instrument is the
traditonal Thammatama. Besides I have learned almost all the percussion
instruments in Sri Lanka including the Daula and Udakkiya. Today this
whole gamut of traditional and modern percussion instruments can be
played only by a very few people in this country including Piyasara
Shilapadipathi and Ravibandu Vidyapathi.
I have, learned Congo drums from the Euro-US percussion instruments
and I have only a basic knowledge of playing the classical acoustic
drum. Yet I am glad to have developed an acquaintance with all the drums
in Euro-US regions.
Q: In this arena of music what is the specific path you have
entered in to?
A: I came through a difficult path. I had to march through
almost every traditional and technical back road in this country. Thus
it was not a bed of roses. Yet my father who is a dramstist of repute in
this country, introduced me to all the local classical percussion
teachers. I developed my career into international standard with a lot
of perseverance. It was a memorable moment for me when I got the rare
opportunity to play the traditional Sinhala Thammattama in the word
famous Sydney Opera. House. That was one of those hair raising moments
in my life when felt proud to be Sri Lankan.
The Tokyo Opera City holds a World Symphony Opera Week every year. We
represented it with our Symphony Orchestra consisting a team of about 30
players and collaborated with the Japanese Symphony Orchestra of about
50 players.. This joint Orchestra performed under Harsha Makalada's
composition titled "Swara Sanga Wannama." I played Thammatama and Daula,
and Ravibandu played the Gataberaya for this composition. There, we, for
the first time in the whole world, played Sri Lankan percussion
instruments for an Orchestral composition. It created such a thrilling
outcome which still echoes in my mind.
Q: How have your father Wijerathna Warakagoda, backed you in
this particular performing arena?
A: My father is an actor. He has nothing to do with the arena
of percussion. He only directed me to the right blend of gurus who
helped me build my percussion career in the correct path. I am grateful
to him for the proper initial guidance and encouragement. He never posed
any obstacle to my wish of becoming a percussionist.
Q: Did it ever occur to you to settle down in a Euro-US
background to pursue at a higher plane rather than in Sri Lanka?
A: You can be a percussion artiste anywhere in the world if
you have the will power. I have this confidence.
I have visited plenty of western countries. But I think they live a
commercialized fast lifestyle than us. They don't have peace tranquility
we have in Sri Lanka. I will never feel for another country the way I
feel for Sri Lanka. I cannot express this feeling in words. It's like
trying to express in mere words, the feelings of love you have for your
mother. Being an artiste I am exceptionally sensitive to feeling and Sri
Lanka is everything to me.
Q: What is your ambition that is closest to your heart?
A: I have a dream. A beautiful dream. It's about the day I
will play Sri Lankan indigenous percussion instruments with the world
famous Yanni's Orchestra. We in Sri Lanka have, and perform beautiful
rhythm that's unique to our country unlike in any tropical country in
this whole wide world.. Yes, we may have financial difficulties because
we are still struggling to come up, in this country.
Yet it being God-given talent, art, is a divine feeling. You can
preserve this divinity of expression, that is born of the sons of this
soil, only within our own roots Sri Lanka. Nowhere else, will do.