Veteran Sri Lankan singer and musician, Pandit Wannakuwatta Waduge Don Albert Perera, better known by his adopted name Amaradeva, passed away today (November 3rd, 2016) after being admitted at the Intensive Care Unit of the Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital.
A vocalist, violinist and composer, he was one of those responsible for promoting Sri Lankan music internationally. Primarily using traditional instruments like sitars, tablas and harmoniums, Amaradeva incorporated Sinhala folk music with Indian ragas in his work. Many consider Pandit Amaradeva’s contribution to the development of Sinhala music as unmatched. His work was vital in the creation of the sarala gee genre practised subsequently by artists like Victor Ratnayake, Sunil Edirisinghe and Sanath Nandasiri.
Pandit Amaradeva has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Philippine Ramon Magsaysay Award (2001), Indian Padma Sri Award (2002) and Sri Lankan “President’s Award of Kala Keerthi” (1986) and Deshamanya Award (1998). In 2003 the French government awarded him the prestigious honour: Officier (officer). He has also represented Sri Lanka in many forums including the UNESCO 1967 Manila Symposium.
In 1972, Pandit Amaradeva composed the music for the Maldivian National Anthem, ‘Gaumii Salaam’, at the request of Maldivian Government.
Pandit Amaradeva leaves behind his wife Wimala, one son and two daughters.
Pandit Amaradeva’s loss cannot be expressed in words.