Lalanath de Silva is a Sri Lankan-American composer and
conductor Hailing from a musical family. His compositions
have been performed by orchestras and musicians around the world,
from Sri Lanka and India to the USA, UK, Netherlands, Switzerland,
Korea, Vietnam, and Brazil. His compositions range from
Symphonies and Oratorios to a Requiem, Concertos for Sitar and
Cello, Overtures, and chamber music. He is also a conductor
and a mentor to younger composers, especially from South Asia.
Lalanath joined the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka as a Flautist in 1974. He was appointed as its Deputy Conductor in 1991 and shared concerts with the late Dr. Earle de Fonseka. He was appointed the Orchestra’s Conductor in 2000, a position he held till he went overseas in 2002. He is the Orchestra’s most performed Sri Lankan composer.
Encouraged by his father, also a musician, his compositional talents became evident when he was 12 years old. He studied composition and flute with Sharmini Arulanandam (nee Rasaratnam). The Colombo Sinfonietta conducted by Sarath Fernando performed his Overture based on Sri Lankan folk tunes when he was 15 years old. He was appointed as the Conductor of the Colombo Youth Orchestra at the age of 19. He was largely responsible for helping to re-structure the governance of the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka in 1991, bringing in a Board of Governors and Trustees.
He was the Founder Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra established by the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka (1992-1996). He has guest conducted the Bombay Chamber Orchestra, the former Amsterdam Chamber Orchestra and the Long Island Youth Orchestra. Most recently he conducted the Sun Symphony Orchestra in Vietnam. His conducting career has emphasized the performance of new, experimental and innovative Sri Lankan music. In this mode he has championed the works of numerous Sri Lankan composers from Harsha Makalanda, Sarath Fernando, Vasanatha Fernando, and Anil Mihiripenna, to Devar Surya Sena.
As a composer, de Silva has strived to bring together elements of western and oriental music. Among his works, many of which have been premiered and performed by different orchestras, are two Symphonies, a Christmas Oratorio, a Tone Poem (choir and orchestra) lamenting the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, a Requiem Mass for the Earth (mixing nature sounds with choir and orchestra), a Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra (performed in India and Sri Lanka), a Jubilee Overture (written for the 25th anniversary of the Orchestra), an Overture – the Dancers, Tablesque for Strings and several chamber music works. His latest compositions include a Cello Concerto and a setting of the Beatitudes for choir and chamber group. A full list of his compositions with available links to recordings are here. Lalanath’s Facebook page and YouTube channel regularly feature his works and the works of other composers.
De Silva is also a lawyer, specializing in environmental law and currently serves as the Managing Director of Transparentem. He was the first Head of the Independent Redress Mechanism of the Green Climate Fund (Korea), established by the UNFCCC. Earlier, he served as a Legal Officer in the UN Compensation Commission in Geneva and as the Director of Environmental Democracy at the World Resources Institute in Washington DC.