Veteran musician Pandit Amaradewa is no more

Veteran musician Pandit Amaradewa has passed away at the age of 88, a family member told Ada Derana.

Pandit Amaradewa was hospitalized this morning following a cardiac emergency. He was being treated at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital.

He has been recognised for his contribution to music by the governments of India, France and Sri Lanka as well as by several international organisations.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is currently visiting Hong Kong, said he was deeply saddened by Amaradeva’s death and described him as a “symbol of Sri Lankan classical music” for decades.

President Maithripala Sirisena also expressed condolences on Twitter saying: “Maestro Amaradeva, it has been an honour to have (had) you in our lives. May you attain Nibbana (nirvana).”

A family member said the musician had wanted a low-key funeral, but a government spokesman said they were discussing according him state honours.

Wannakuwatta Waduge Don Albert Perera born 5 December 1927 in Koralwella, Moratuwa, better known by his adopted name Amaradeva, was also a violinist and composer.

In the mid-1950s, Amaradeva in his Janagayana project consulted experts of the Kandyan dance tradition like Pani Bharata, Kiriganita, Gunamala, Ukkuva and Suramba in his path to understand what constituted Sinhala folk music. 

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). Notably he still remains the most popular artist as confirmed by Nielsen Media Research findings. He has also represented Sri Lanka in many forums including the UNESCO 1967.

UPDATE: Remains of late Pandit W.D. Amaradeva will lie at Independence Square for public respect from 10 am tomorrow to 3 pm Saturday.

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