The Sri Lankan-born, Canada-based composer-performer Dinuk Wijeratne has been described by the Toronto Star as ‘an artist who reflects a positive vision of our cultural future’, and by the New York Times as ‘exuberantly creative’. His boundary-crossing work sees him equally at home in collaborations with symphony orchestras and string quartets, tabla players and DJs, and takes him to international venues as poles apart as the Berlin Philharmonie and the North Sea Jazz Festival.
Dinuk’s 2016 highlights include JUNO and ECMA wins for his string quartet pieces Two Pop Songs on Antique Poems, and his appointment as Composer-in-Residence of Symphony Nova Scotia.
Dinuk made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2004 as a composer, conductor, and pianist, performing with Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. A second Carnegie appearance followed in 2009, alongside tabla legend Zakir Hussain. Dinuk has also appeared at the Kennedy Center (Washington DC), Opera Bastille (Paris), Lincoln Center (New York), Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires), Sri Lanka, Japan, and across the Middle East.
Dinuk grew up in Dubai before taking up composition studies at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester, UK. In 2001, he was invited by Oscar-winning composer John Corigliano to join his studio at New York’s Juilliard School. Dinuk was also composition fellow at the 2002 Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and was appointed Artist-in-Residence by the Performing Arts Foundation at International House for the 2003/4 season. Conducting studies followed at New York’s Mannes College of Music.
Dinuk has composed specially for almost all of the artists and ensembles with whom he has performed; to name a few: Suzie LeBlanc, Bev Johnston, Tim Garland, John Dankworth, Nikki Iles, Julian Argüelles, Victor Mendoza, Buck 65, Skratch Bastid, Joseph Petric, Nick Halley, Ed Thigpen, Pandit Ramesh Misra, Adrian Spillett, David Jalbert, Kevork Mourad, Mayookh Bhaumik, Yolande Bavan, Christina Courtin, MIR, the Afiara & Cecelia String Quartets, the Apollo Saxophone Quartet, TorQ & 4-Mality Percussion Quartets, McGill Percussion Ensemble, the NY Kathak Ensemble, the New Juilliard Ensemble, Onelight Theatre, Symphony Nova Scotia, and the orchestras of Toronto, Illinois, Windsor, and KwaZulu Natal (South Africa). He continues his collaborative recitals of entirely original works with acclaimed clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, based on their duo album entitled ‘Complex Stories, Simple Sounds’.
A passionate educator, Dinuk has lectured at the universities of Dalhousie, Acadia and Saskatchewan, and is celebrating his tenth season as Music Director of the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra. He has conducted the orchestras of the National Arts Centre, Thunder Bay, PEI, Scotia Festival Orchestra, and appeared numerous times with Symphony Nova Scotia during his 3-year appointment as Conductor-in-Residence. He is the recipient of the Canada Council Jean-Marie Beaudet award for orchestral conducting; the NS Established Artist Award; NS Masterworks nominations for his Tabla Concerto and piano trio Love Triangle; double Merritt Award nominations; Juilliard, Mannes & Countess of Munster scholarships; the Sema Jazz Improvisation Prize; the Soroptimist International Award for Composer-Conductors; and the Sir John Manduell Prize – the RNCM’s highest student honor. His music and collaborative work embrace the great diversity of his international background and influences.