Sujeeva Hapugalla is back in
town, fresh from a host of performances around the
world. She will once again thrill Sri Lankan audiences
with a stylistically varied programme of romantic and
impressionistic works as well as operatic and song
transcriptions by Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Debussy and
Ravel at her concert, Poetry Of The Piano on July
3, at the Lionel Wendt. The concert is sponsored by
Zonta Club II and all proceeds are in aid of the Burns
Unit of the National Hospital.
Sujeeva’s concert repertoire
will also include a rich tapestry of vibrant rhythms
from around the world: the mystical and magical music of
the Orient evoked by composers Jianzhong and Debussy,
the melodic charm of Spain by the works of De Falla, and
fiery, tempestuous Latin moods with Argentinian and
Brazilian Tangos by Piazzolla, Ginastera, Nazerath, as
well as lively Cuban dances by Ernesto Lecuona, all
brought to life by her skilled artistry of the rich
sonorities of the piano. A rousing finale by Gershwin
will bring the concert to a close.
Sujeeva has done Sri Lanka proud
with an impressive list of achievements the world over.
She has been listed and presented through the coveted
international roster of Steinway Concert Artists since
2001, and has been recognised for her engaging
performances in all five continents. Sujeeva was an
ABRSM scholar at the Royal College of Music, London,
where she was awarded prestigious prizes. During her
stay in the UK, which spanned many years, she performed
on celebrated concert platforms and festivals in London,
won numerous awards at national and international
competitions and was featured on Classic FM and BBC
Her recent move to California in
the US has fuelled her active international career as
performer, much sought after educator, as well
adjudicator of competitions together with her husband
Prasanna who is an avid contributor to the arts. Sujeeva
serves on the board of the San Francisco Chamber
Orchestra where she initiated the popular Rush Hour
Concert Series in San Francisco’s financial district, an
affiliation to the present Chamber Music for younger
audiences in the Bay area which reached thousands of
students. She is also a popular headline solo concert
pianist for the 6 Star Cruise Line, Crystal where she
performs alongside international celebrities.
Sujeeva has also been a keen
supporter and performing artist for several charities in
the UK, USA and Sri Lanka. She was a select artist for
Sir Yehudi Menuhin’s Live Music Now Series in the UK.
After a few years absence,
Sujeeva is excited to be back on stage in Colombo. In
her home country she first studied with her mother
Indranee Hapugalle who celebrates 50 years of dedicated
teaching this year and the revered Mary Billimoria.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Sujeeva gives us a
vivid glimpse of her life and thoughts as a celebrity
Q: Your most memorable
To me a concert is memorable when it reaches the hearts
of an audience, provokes curiosity and acts as musical
I have had many performances
that have engaged me to great musical heights, which in
turn, have provoked deep impressions and curiosity about
the music in the audience. I feel very rewarded to have
this type of energetic musically exciting dialogue with
members of the audience, most often during post concert
receptions etc. It is also particularly exciting when
audience members who are new to classical music share
their enthusiasm for a recital.
Q: What do you most enjoy about
your concert performances?
Conveying the timeless excitement / spiritual /
emotional message of great classical music through the
extraordinary sound pallet of the piano.
Q: Your hobbies?
Engaging in diverse arts activities with my husband
Prasanna, who is a passionate photographer and music
lover. Travel, and supporting many forums for Young
Artist performances. Education - family music programmes.
I wish we had time to pursue other interest too!
Q: Your opinion of the musical
talent produced by Sri Lanka to date?
I am excited to note the colourful array of very
talented musicians pursuing music in Sri Lanka, who are
contributing much to and influencing a growing
enthusiastic musical audience. They are doing this very
creatively, understanding the wider musical needs of the
community and deserve a lot of support to nurture their
art, given the fact that we do not quite have a very
supportive formal infrastructure for the arts in Sri
I am very happy to note that
formal classical music establishments like the Symphony
Orchestra of Sri Lanka are exploring wonderful new
vistas of portraying classical music (and now oriental
music too) to wider audiences under the excellent
visionary guidance of the governing board of directors,
the great pool of conductors and numerous passionate
Many notable choirs Soul Sounds,
Revelations and great school choirs (I have heard a
heart warming performance of Ladies College choir under
Sureka Amerasinghe!) are also helping to create a
community with a love and exposure to music.
My attention is also drawn to
the very dedicated teachers who are selfless in their
efforts in grooming and nurturing many of these young
students, helping to build a musically astute younger
generation. I was personally blessed to have studied
with the revered Mary Billimoria and before that, with
my mother Indranee Hapugalle, who have instilled
and positively influenced their students over the years.
My sister, Ruvini, who is a very dedicated musician, and
I have been greatly influenced by their life long
message of a true love for the arts and a commitment to
drive for excellence.
Q: Did you make any special
selections for your concert in Sri Lanka?
I wanted to share my experience
shaped by hearing a wide and colourful sound pallet of
music from around the world. There will be a section
that includes some Latin American composers with a lot
of the rhythms and melodies that we in Sri Lanka are
very familiar with.