by Prof.Theodore Warnakulasuriya
Open University of Sri Lanka.
“Some people come into our lives
and quickly go.
Some stay for a while and leave
Footprints in our heart
And we are never, ever the same”
To those who know him closely, “Ape luckiya,” “Lucky ayiya” , or “Ape Lucky” are some of the special, sentimental and fond nick names they use to talk about Mr. Luxman, Wijesekera. All of us know Luxman as a popular and well known singer, and a composer of music, especially for Children. Further, Luxmanis an extremely talented,Television drama producer, an advertising director and a singer of solo and duets which are very popular today. My good friend late“some”, (Mr, Somapala HewaKapuge) always referred to Luxmanas “Ape lukiya” fondly whenever he spoke about him. My association with Mr. Luxman Wijesekera, is more than 20 years, and I consider that it is a great privilege to write a short felicitation about LuxamanWijesekera and his contribution to the Children’s Music in Sri Lanka.
His parents were late Mr. Walter Wijesekera and late Mrs. Daisy GeterueWijesekara. He studied firstly at Anuradapura Central College, and Maliyadeva College in Kurunegala. Later he got admission to Government College of Music (Hewood) and received his first appointment, as a music teacher in Welusumana Vidyalaya. After a stint in Anuradapura, Luxman joined and taught music at Isipathna College and D.S.Senanayake Colleges in Colombo. In 1975,as an auditioned singer of Sri Lanka Broad Casting Cooperation, he earned popularity in Radio and Television in Sri Lanka. We, young and olds, still remembernostalgically his well-known “Muthu AhurakGayana” Children Song Program aired by Sri Lanka Rupawahaini Cooperation in the 80s.
Laxman Wijesekara, definitely is very close to our hearts and minds, and one of the key figuresin Children’s Music in Sri Lanka.
Luxman is always very unassuming, extremelyhelpful to anyone who approaches him. In composing music, LuxmanWijesekeara is very innovative, creative and quite talented. He has talents for composingsimple and catchy tunes for children whether it is music for Sinhala or English children’s songs. By composing music for my own children’s book and CD “ A for Apple” Luxman has proved beyond doubt that language is not a problem or a barrier for a versatile music composer. When he composes music for children, he takes his own time, pays close attention to the meter, the tempo, the bar lines. Whatever, composition he has done so far, starting with his famous “Muthu Ahurak” gayana program of Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation, he has developed expertize in each of above basic rules of music compositions. As amusician close to children’s hearts he can compose soothing music not only pleasing to the ears of children but we adults as well.
“Muthu AhurakRupavahiniGayana CD, Henri Jayasena’s “SuduSiyage Lama Gee” and my own “SinduKiyamuGanan Karamu”, “NawaLowakata Lama Gee, and “A for Apple” are some of his bestmasterpieces he has contributed to the field of children’s music in Sri Lanka. His first CD, “Jana Udawa Lama Geetha” sponsored by the UNICEP shows that it should be looked or studied as one of the pioneering effort to combine value education and entertainment in Sri Lanka, which is also known as “Edutainment”. Most of his music compositions are light, cheerful and mesmerizing. Most of the music he has composed so far shows that LuxmanWijesekera is one of the avant-garde composer of music when it comes to the music for children’s songs.
Most of his catchy and innovative tunes are found in the following songs:
“mandaramkaluahasewalakulakanagila……”, “ watthapahalajambugahe…….” ,“Mahadanamuththatanuwanadunneapi……..” ,“Wakkadelangathanikakulensudureddakporawagena, nawagunawalaganankaranakirikoknayide……….”, “ nangienudutuwadaakase……..”, “dawasakheenenrajakamalabila……..”, (Muthu Ahurak Lama Geetha CD) “padimu ape bisikalaya…..”, “DilenaDilenapunchitharuwa….”, (NawaLowakata Lama Gee CD) “Young kids small kids everybody come….”, “ A for apple … B for bear……….”, “Two times one is Two……..”, “There is seven days in a week…..”, “There are twelve months……..” (A for Apple CD), “PeraGedidekakperagahe”, “MaluwoPasdenek”, (SinduKiyamu, Ganan Karamu CD)
As writers for children we know that we need to activate or listencarefully and awake our “inner child, especially when we compose for children. I find that in all hismusic compositions for children, Luxaman makes use of his “inner child” who dictates how to compose innovative and joyful music for children. Since children’s enthusiasm is infectious, one who compose music has to be careful in order to get children to throw their bodies and souls to the rhythm and words of the songs they hear. Luxman is fully aware of this physiological and psychological need, and catches imagination of all the children, holding their attention into all his music. Repetition and rhyme are essential ingredients of Luxman’s own style. Listen to the music of this song he has included in the his “Muthu AhurakGayana program”
purahandadutuwade Ra pane,
Aahasamayata mal wage,
Situ maligayen panela ennamalli
Polatugedarathsitumaligayath apeloweekak karamu nangi mallei”
purahandadutuwade Ra pane lowawataekaidilune ?
A ahasamayata mal wage ruwataapiyipipune //
Asa pirikadulathdetholesinahawat apelowe
ekak karamu ape loweNangie, Malli
Polatugedarathsitumaligayath apeloweekak karamu nangi mallei”
His love for humanity, socialism, equality and justice are powerfully brought out in the music and the words that are chosen. The fast beats he has chosen tell us the urgency we should have for bringing asocial change.
Most of the music he has composed support children’s learning and emotional development as well as help strengthen memory skills. When it comes to composing of Music for children,Luxman knows what instruments needs to be chosen in order to match the words, how they should be played not too loud or too soft in order to bring out the meanings that are manifest or latent, how various instruments should be amplified keeping acoustic and rhythmic rules , melodic rules, the studio sound quality in relation to voice of children. Most of the music he has composed for children’s songs he uses traditional musical instruments in combination with western instruments, bringing authenticity to the compositions. Some of the music he has composed with appropriate words bring out his love for the poor and need for social change. I like to end this short felicitation by quoting the verses of another song from the “Muthu Ahurak CD”. However, I have slightly improvised the last words.
LuxmanWijesekara is “Punchiayagepunchi Loke
May you live long! ChiratuJayan!. Luxman Wijesekera’s contribution to the field of children’s music in Sri Lanka still to be assessed.
(This article is written by Theodore Warnakulasuriya who is Professor of Media Studies at the Open University of Sri Lanka to celebrate the 70th Birthday of Mr.Luxman Wijesekera which falls on March 14th 2018.Mr. Wijesekera known as “Lucky Aiya” and his contribution to children’s music in Sri Lanka will be honoured with a musical evening at Nelumpokuna on May 17th 2018)