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about the orchestra. Thank you for your support of SOSL activities.

Please see our Outreach Gallery linked in the menu, for photographs.


The SOSL returns to a programme of classical masterpieces after its (hugely successful) annual foray into the world of pops.

November 3rd, 2018 will see Beethoven's Symphony no 3, the massive and revolutionary Eroica, performed at Ladies' College for the first time in over two decades.

This work embodies heroism and victory not just for Napoleon (to whom it was first dedicated) or for Beethoven, but for music itself in symphonic form. The Eroica represents the struggle, grief, death, freedom, joy and victory of the human state all in one monumental work that is one of Beethoven's greatest achievements. Under the guidance of Dushyanthi Perera, the SOSL will take up the challenge of bringing you this seminal and groundbreaking work in the symphonic genre.

The SOSL Masterworks concert also features Julian Clef, an award-winning young pianist who will perform Chopin's piano concerto no. 2 in F minor - a piece designed by the composer to showcase his own virtuosic brilliance and mastery of the instrument, as was the norm in the early 19th century.

Indian-born Julian Clef graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music with a master's degree in 2014. After studying with eminent pianists Martin Roscoe and Ronan O'Hora at the Guildhall School of Music, he graduated with an Artistic Diploma in July 2016. An active recitalist, Julian has performed in many venues in the UK and abroad, including Buckingham Palace in London, Leeds College of Music, St David's Hall in Cardiff, NCPA in Mumbai and Dvorak Prague International Music Festival.

The SOSL Masterworks Concert is sponsored by EAST INDIA HOLDINGS

Print Media Sponsors : The Sunday Times, Daily Mirror, Hi Magazine and Hi TV.

Electronic Media Sponsors: YES FM, TV1 and Legends 96.6.

Creative Partners: J. Walter Thompson Sri Lanka.

Tickets are priced at Rs. 3000, 2500, 1500 (reserved) and 750 (unreserved-balcony). Box plan and tickets will be available at the Lionel Wendt Theatre from Saturday, 20th October 2018.



This year sees the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka reach its 60th year - an important milestone in the history of any institution. It is a testament to the enduring nature of this organisation and its dedication to preserving, supporting and promoting western classical music in this country.  The SOSL is the oldest orchestra in the South Asian region that has been performing continuously throughout its existence.

The Symphony Orchestra of Ceylon, as it was called then, was established by the panel for Western Music, Dance and Drama of the Arts Council of Ceylon in 1958. The Symphony Orchestra's first concert in 1958 was conducted by Hussein Mohammed, and featured the famed Malinee Jayasinghe-Peiris as soloist. The event received the good wishes of the Prime Minister of Ceylon, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, whose message appeared in the first concert programme. The Prime Minister wrote: ''The formation of the Symphony Orchestra is the first venture of its kind undertaken by the Arts Council, and I wish the Arts Council of Ceylon and in particular the Panel for Western Music, Dance and Drama, all success in the promotion of the Symphony Orchestra of Ceylon.''

The longsighted members of the Arts Council would feel vindicated today, if they could see how the fledgling orchestra they sponsored has prospered and thrived.

One of the key figures in the SOSL's history is Kala Keerthi Dr. Earle De Fonseka, who stood at its helm from 1960 to 2000 - forty years during which he steered the orchestra through the storms that cropped up as surely as he did through the years of smooth sailing. Dr. Earle de Fonseka inspired generations of musicians, and his legacy lives on as the SOSL moves forward to bring a new generation of musicians into the musical fold.

The position of conductor of the SOSL has since been held by Lalanath De Silva, Dr. Ajit Abeysekera, Ananda Dabare, Manilal Weerakoon, Eshantha Peiris, and at present, Dushyanthi Perera.The orchestra has also benefitted greatly from the guidance of visiting conductors, with musicians like Hans-Joachim Koellreutter and Sir Steuart Wilson directing in the past, while more recently the SOSL has performed under the baton of Gregory Rose, James Ross, Keiko Kobayashi and Ksenia Zharko.

The SOSL has been fortunate indeed in its concertmasters. Eileen Prins led the orchestra at its inception, and remained for 27 years- a legendary performer and teacher whose influence is still felt today in the calibre of students she trained. After her came Tania Anandappa - a dedicated leader whose technical facility was matched by her musical sensitivity. Tania was succeeded by Ananda Dabare - the foremost violinist in the country today, and worthy indeed to fill the shoes of his predecessors. Ananda is known as a brilliant performer and teacher, and his students have since made up a large section of the SOSL's violin section. The immensely talented Thushani Jayawardena was the next to take up the position, and currently the SOSL is jointly led by two extremely accomplished young violinists - Nilupul Silva and Sulara Nanayakkara.

Dr. Earle de Fonseka

Fostering young talent has always been a focal point of the orchestra.  The biennial Concerto Competition was one of the SOSL's vehicles for showcasing young talent, and this competition served as a platform for aspiring young musicians to give their orchestral debuts in their chosen instrument. Notable Sri Lankan musicians Dushy Perera, Soundarie David, Tharanga Goonetilleke, Tania Ekanayake and Kishani Jayasinghe are among the winners of this competition - which to many was a starting point in a distinguished career in music. The SOSL also reserves one of its yearly subscription concerts for young musicians and composers, providing young artists with opportunities to perform in public and encouraging them to develop and nurture their talents.

The SOSL has also developed the JSO or Junior Symphony Orchestra as a training-ground for younger players, providing valuable opportunities for students to learn the arts of orchestral and ensemble playing while developing both technically and musically.

The orchestra has organised many outreach programmes for which the SOSL has travelled as far as Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Galle, Kandy and Kurunegala in order to perform educational concert-lectures that have not only helped to awaken interest in classical  music, but have also helped music students to see and hear live orchestral music for the first time in their lives. The SOSL organizes a free concert for school children every year, which students of western music in areas as far as Jaffna attend.

The SOSL has for years been recognized as Sri Lanka's only full symphonic orchestra which regularly performs music that requires a full complement of orchestral instruments. In 2007, the SOSL was chosen to represent Sri Lanka at Asia Orchestra Week - a festival celebrating symphonic music, and the symphony orchestras of the Asia-Pacific region. This festival took place in Tokyo, and the SOSL performed at one of the best concert halls in the world -  the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, under the baton of Maestro Yazaki Hikotaro.

The SOSL was also called upon to perform as part of the official events organised for the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting, which took place in Sri Lanka in 2013. The SOSL was part of a multi-national orchestra comprising players from the UK, India and Sri Lanka, and on this momentous occasion performed at Nelum Pokuna under the Baton of James Ross. More recently, in February of 2017, the Embassy of China invited the SOSL to perform a joint concert with the China National Symphony, China's national orchestra, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and China. This gala concert was held at the BMICH under the distinguished patronage of the President and the Prime Minister.

The SOSL has since its inception, been a bastion of classical and orchestral music in this country. It has nurtured and shaped the career of many a musician, has for 60 years been either the only or one of the main sources of live symphonic music in the country, and been involved in education and training.

In the words of the poet Arthur O'Shaughnessy -  We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams yet we are the movers and shakers of  the world forever, it seems.



The SOSL celebrates 60 years this season, and for much of its existence has made it its mission to foster young talent and promote young musicians. The HSBC has supported the SOSL by sponsoring the Young Musicians concert over the last 22 years. This year's Young Musicians concert takes place on July 1st at the Ladies' College Hall, and is extremely special in that it features not just one or two soloists, but an entire Junior string orchestra. This year, to commemorate the 60th season of the SOSL, the JSO will perform a segment of the program as the featured artists, showcasing their emerging talents and demonstrating their skills as the future players of the SOSL. As we celebrate 60 unforgettable years of music, let us also look to the future and ensure that the music we have strived to keep alive will be safe in the hands of a new generation. The Young Musicians Concert will be directed by Dushyanthi Perera. The concert starts with the SOSL performing Svendsen's swaggering Festival Polonaise, which will be followed by Mendelssohn's light-as-air and unforgettably melodious Italian Symphony. The JSO will then take the stage, performing the infectiously tuneful Jig from Holst's St. Paul's Suite, Bela Bartok's set of quirky yet piquant Romanian Folk dances, and Mozart's ever-popular Divertimento in D major.

The JSO will then join the SOSL for the remainder of the program, which consists of Sibelius's brooding Valse Triste, and John Williams' triumphant 5th movement from the Star Wars Suite. Lend your support to Sri Lanka's emerging musicians- encourage them with your presence at the Young Musicians Concert of 1st July at the Ladies College Hall. Box Plan and Tickets in person from Sarasavi Bookshop (Nugegoda & Maharagama), office (Jawatte Gardens, Colombo 5.), Yamaha Music Centre (Bauddhaloka Mawatha) & Abans Main Showroom, Colombo 3. Online:


We are looking out for aspiring young musicians, interested in Western classical music, to perform in the JSO.

If you like to be a member of the JSO, please write in to request an audition.

Candidates should have technical proficiency at the level of Grade 5 of the various examination boards, such as Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity Guildhall, in orchestral instruments (string and wind instruments). You need not have passed the examinations but should have reached the standard required in their performance and reading of music.

Interested candidates should write in to the SOSL office by December 31st, 2017, giving your musical qualifications and experience and your contact details. All communication should be sent to the SOSL office.




10th Summit of the Alliance of the Asia Pacific Region Orchestras (AAPRO) held in Mumbai in September 2013.
Speech made by Sharmini Wettimuny, Chair of the Board of Governors of the SOSL


The Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka performed its first concert in Jaffna on November 17th, at the Veerasingham Hall.
The concert was organized in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan as part of the Embassy's celebrations of the 60th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka. The concert commenced with a speech in Tamil by His Excellency Nobuhito Hobo, the Ambassador of Japan. His speech was warmly applauded by the audience who were surprised to hear him speak in Tamil.
The theme of the concert was ''Music from Around the World''. The orchestra, conducted by the Japanese conductor Keiko Kobayashi, performed music from Austria, Germany, France, Italy, U.S.A., Japan, India and Sri Lanka. The Clarinet Soloist Ado Kihara, from Japan, gave a rousing rendition of the third movement of Weber's Clarinet Concerto. His performance elicited great interest from the audience who was, no doubt, familiar with the Nadaswaram, the wind instrument used in carnatic music.
The Tamil music of A.R. Rahman ''Kadhal Rojave'' & ''Malarkale Malarkale'' was loudly applauded. Sunil Shantha's ''Olu Pipeela'' was well received too. The programme included '''Song Lines'', a piece composed by the well known Japanese contemporary composer Eiji Suzuki, based both on a Sri Lankan and a traditional Japanese folk tune. The composer wanted to show through his music the harmonious blending of cultures and his desire for world peace. Mr. Eiji Suzuki was present at the concert and was warmly applauded for his composition. The audience showed a keen interest when the different sounds of the orchestral instruments were demonstrated to them with an explanation given in both English and Tamil. This, along with brief introductions to each piece of music, enabled the audience, which comprised of students, teachers, bankers and the general public to gain a greater understanding of the orchestral instruments and the music that was being performed.
The audience interacted with the orchestra throughout the programme. A student from Chundikuli Girls School, Jane Madusha Selvaraja, was given the opportunity to ''conduct'' the orchestra. She received rapturous applause. Ms Selvaraja said she ''was very happy as it was a good experience'' for her. During the performance of Gershwin's popular '''I Got Rhythm'' the audience joined in the rhythmic clapping which was part of the music score. At the final encore of Johann Strauss Jr's ''toe tapping'' Overture to Die Fledermaus, the audience spontaneously broke into a steady clap in time to the music.
The applause from the audience was loud and appreciative throughout the concert showing their sensitivity to good music, when well performed even if in an unfamiliar idiom. At the end of the concert, responding to the rousing applause and requests for encores, the SOSL performed a piece of music written especially for the SOSL by the Japanese composer, Eiji Suzuki, titled ''Greetings''.
Many people requested the Orchestra to come back and perform again. Some of the comments received from the school principals present were: ''We would like the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka start a Jaffna Branch'', '' The event gave entertainment to all as well as educated'',  and ''We were very happy to listen to the music by A.R. Rahman for his two popular Tamil compositions ‘Kadhal Rojave' and ''Malarkale,Malarkale''. We would like you to conduct this kind of programme at least once a year as it will provide entertainment for children, teachers and the general music loving public''.
A bank executive commented ''We felt it was a new experience for us. It completely differs with the formal music program which we were used to see at this part of the country. I hope this is a first such program in our surrounding area. We enjoyed the different countries music and live musical action.'' Yet another bank executive wrote that ''It was really a mind blowing event to witness. I came with my family and friends and they too were thrilled. My naughty little son who never sits in a place watched the whole concert attentively. During those two hours we forgot that we are in Jaffna. It was really nice to see a Japanese Gentleman delivered his speech in Tamil and a Student was called to conduct a Song. It would have definitely made an impact on the school students who were there more than 50% of the audience. At this juncture I want to say a big thank you for the whole team for that wonderful evening and kindly request you to continue to support the peninsula people with such great events.'' The Musicians of the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka were equally moved by the packed hall and gave an inspired performance that evening. As remarked by one musician ''It was truly a magnificent happening. The audience response was terrific. The concert showed the SOSL's spirit of music making. The players are thrilled, not only about the music but the whole trip.'' The Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka thanks all its sponsors, Asia Capital, The Embassy of Japan, Japan Foundation, Toyota, Colombo Dockyard Plc, Itochu, Mitsubishi Corporation, Taisei, Maeda and Mr Chandra Mohan for their sponsorship, without which this concert would not have been possible. Mrs. Sharmini Wettimuny, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the SOSL stated, ''We are delighted that we were able to share our music with the People of Jaffna, who filled the huge Veerasingham Hall to capacity and showed their appreciation through enthusiastic applause. We also value their comments given after the concert. We hope that we will be able to return to Jaffna for more concerts in the future''.


On February 18th, the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka performed the first concert of its 55th season to a packed house at the newly opened Musaeus College auditorium. The concert, which commenced with Mozart's well known Overture to the Magic Flute, featured French Horn specialist, Aron Konczei, from Hungary, who performed Richard Strauss' French Horn Concerto No. 1 with consummate ease and virtuosity. The concert culminated with Beethoven's majestic Fifth providing the audience with an evening of German Masterworks, performed with ''heroic musicianship'' as described by a member of the audience.

This concert was not merely an opportunity for the audience to enjoy masterworks from the orchestral repertoire but it was also a great effort by the SOSL to reach out to students from out of Colombo. The audience was informed by the Chairman of the SOSL, that as part of the orchestra's commitment to share their music, students are regularly invited to attend the orchestra's concerts in Colombo. On this night over 300 students, from universities and schools in and outside Colombo were in the audience on the invitation of the orchestra. Particularly heartwarming was the invitation extended to the group of students, teachers and officials from Mullaitivu, who were in Colombo for the first time in their lives. Their three day visit to Colombo included many first time experiences that included a train ride and a film at a cinema. In addition to this group, the audience was informed that a further 100 students were brought in from Galle, specifically to attend this concert. Many of these children too had never seen a symphony orchestra in live concert before despite being students of western classical music theory. Along with another 100 students from Musaeus College, the north and south students were given an opportunity to learn about the instruments of the orchestra and to interact with each other prior to the concert, in a session conducted by a member of the SOSL and Sri Lanka Unites.

This contribution, by the SOSL, to reconciliation and understanding was praised by many in the audience, who appreciated the orchestra's program to reach out to students in and outside Colombo. The SOSL was commended for its ''excellent social and educational responsibility'' and for providing an opportunity for students to listen to music to which they have no other exposure.




The Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka, with the sponsorship of the Norwegian Embassy, embarked on a very special project in 2010. Known as the SOSL Outreach Programme, this educational project was launched with the aim of introducing Western Classical music in areas of the country that have little or no access to it. The SOSL has just concluded two very successful lecture concerts: one in Kurunegala and one in Kilinochchi, where children were introduced to the instruments of the orchestra. 21 Musicians of the SOSL participated in this programme.

The full text of this release is available from the download link to the right. Photos from the trip are in the Outreach Gallery.






The Orchestra's historic Verdi Requiem performance in memory of Dr. Earle de Fonseka, from 7 March 2009, is now available as a DVD. Please contact the Administrative Officer for more information.



In December 2010, BBC South Asia Correspondent Charles Haviland prepared a special report on our Christmas concert.

BBC News visits SOSL


The Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka (SOSL), with the sponsorship of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Colombo, has just embarked on a special project - one that aims to take western classical music to areas outside Colombo. Although western music is taught in schools all over the island, very few schoolchildren outside of Colombo have ever seen or heard a symphony orchestra perform live. They have no practical knowledge of the instruments, works and composers they learn about. The initial step of the SOSL Outreach Program will take the form of a series of lecture concerts, where children will be introduced to the instruments that make up the string, woodwind, brass and percussion sections of an orchestra.

Students, Teachers and Parents are invited, free of charge, to attend these concerts. The first of these concerts took place in Galle on 24th April 2010. The Karapitiya Medical Faculty hall was packed with over 750 students from grades 7-11, all studying western music in the Galle and Matara districts. Musicians performing an arrangement of song Three ensembles - one woodwind, one string and one brass - took the stage in turn, performing works typical for each combination.

The players then gave the audience an introduction to each instrument, demonstrating range, tone, and method of sound production. The children also learned the role each instrument plays in an orchestral setting. Many of the children had never seen or heard a Tuba, or bassoon, or double bass. The audience was extremely appreciative of not only the music but also the educational experience that was made available to them. The information was conveyed both in English and Sinhala. Though the instruments themselves are the focus of these concerts, the audience was given details of the various types and styles of music from different historical periods.

With this in mind, the SOSL regularly offers free tickets to school children from Colombo and the outstation areas to attend their Colombo concerts. The next outreach program will be in Kurunegala in June, and the SOSL plans to take the program to other districts in the following months.
Courtesy: Daily News, 15 May 2010

In an appreciation the Co-ordinator of the Youth Orchestra writes:
''It was an awesome performance that day. Many in the audience expressed their appreciation. I think that it has been a great inspiration to young learners of the western music in the Southern Province. Even to date I hear many positive comments from students whenever I meet them. The modesty and the cordiality of the members of the orchestra impressed us all very much. One experienced orchestra music lover, while expressing his appreciation, expressed his disappointment that a full orchestra was not present. I certainly am looking forward to seeing you perform again in Galle and will be very much obliged to you all if you do. I anxiously await your arrival in Galle again, or even in the vicinity.''

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