Baliphonics showcases a sublime synergy of Sri Lankan Low-Country ritual artists with New Zealand improvisers. Their performances draw upon the essence of ritual music as a vehicle for improvisation and combines elements of drumming, dance, chant and soundscapes to create an exciting experience
The Baliphonics, a seven member ensemble, results from a month-long collaboration which occurred in April 2009 in Sri Lanka. The project was initiated by Sum Suraweera, a Sri Lankan born New Zealand musician, who has a keen interest in exploring new possibilities with music of both his cultures. Sum recently submitted his doctorate in ethnomusicology, specializing in the area of Sri Lankan traditional drumming, at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. Prior to this, Sum studied jazz drumming at the Christchurch Jazz School to attain a Bachelor of Music in performance jazz. Sum has performed extensively as a member of a number of different bands and line-ups in Colombo and has appeared in Jazz and Arts festivals throughout New Zealand.
Reuben Derrick holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance from the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, where he received two scholarships. While residing in Australia for five years, Reuben regularly played with leading Australian and international musicians, such as Jim Denley, Clayton Thomas and Chris Abrahams, concentrating on new improvisational music and performing in festivals in Sydney, Hobart and Melbourne. Since returning to Christchurch in 2005, Reuben has established himself as a highly sought after musician and has played in various festivals such as the Christchurch Jazz and Arts Festivals and the Nelson Jazz Festival. Reuben teaches improvisation, saxophone and ensemble at the Christchurch Jazz School. Recently Reuben released his debut solo album, which concentrates on sound art and soundscapes and extended saxophone techniques. He also led the ensemble The Crust (involving Sum Suraweera and Greg Malcom), on a New Zealand tour in 2007.
S.N. Daniel was born into a family lineage which has practiced ritual art forms for generations. Daniel learnt Sri Lankan Low-Country drumming and dance from his father from an early age of eight. He is currently one of the most respected and experienced ritual musicians in the tradition of Low-Country bali (astrological) rituals of Sri Lanka. Among his childhood achievements, he won a prestigious childrens award at the age of 12 which was presented by the late Sri Lankan Prime Minister, S. W. R. D Bandaranayeke. At the age of 21, Daniel won an All Island Dance Competition. In recognition of his dedication and service to his art, Daniel was awarded the esteemed presidents award in 1999 which has only been awarded to a handful of artists in the country. Now over 60 years of age, Daniel still regularly performs in rituals, with his two sons Prasantha and Susantha, to whom he has passed on this heritage art form.
Prasantha, the younger of the two sons of Daniel, has established himself as the most renowned traditional instrumentalist in Sri Lanka of his generation. From 1985-1995, Prasantha worked as an artist for the International Peace Council of Sri Lanka. Since then, he has been a permanent artist for the Sri Lankan State Dance Ensemble. Since 2004, Prasantha has also been a lecturer at the University of Visual and Performing Arts in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Prasantha has been involved in over 100 international tours. Among the countries he has toured are Holland, Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Great Britain, the United States of America, Canada and India. Among his career highlights, he has designed and built a drum which has Sri Lankan and Japanese influences, performed at the WOMAD festivals in Singapore and Sri Lanka, and conducted a drum orchestra of 350 drummers for the International Cricket Council.
The equally talented sibling Susantha, also learnt the art of traditional Low-Country drumming and dancing from his father at an early age. Currently, he is a permanent musician of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation orchestra, and prior to this he worked for the Sri Lanka State Dance Ensemble for ten years. Susantha has toured many countries including the United States, Australia, Great Britain, Japan, Korea and France. While working as an external lecturer at the Sri Parli Institute of Performing Arts at Horona, Colombo, Sri Lanka, he works as a supporting musician for two of the leading dance academies of Sri Lanka, The Chithrasena School of Dance, and the Budhavatta Dance School.
Misha started playing the guitar around the age of six while living on New Zealand's rugged West Coast. He studied jazz and classical guitar at Massey Conservatorium in Wellington where he was awarded the Ken Avery Memorial Award for best overall first-year instrumentalist. In 2004 he traveled to Sri Lanka with the group Mundi to record and perform with Sri Lankan percussionists, a project organized by Suraweera. In 2006, he spent time in Spain studying flamenco guitar, later going on to perform solo and in collaboration with musicians in Vienna, Barcelona, London and Mexico, including touring with New Zealand artists Haley Westenra and Dave Dobbyn in the UK. His own music con
Baliphonics DVD to be released soon!
A typical Baliphonics show lasts around 70 mins. There are no breaks in between different items. The items are carefully arranged and ordered to capture and hold the attention of the audience throughout the entire performance.