Musician Rohana Weerasinghe was awarded with a merit Doctorate by the University of Visual and Performing Arts on 26th of August 2011. University of Visual and Performing Arts was established in 2005 replacing the former Institute of Aesthetic Studies affiliated to the University of Kelaniya . Although the UVPA is in its infantile stages as a university, it began as a small unit of the Ceylon Technical College in 1893. Approximately five decades later, in October 1949, it shifted to Heywood College in Horton Place. Subsequently, at different stages in its development the university became known as the School of Art and the Government College of Fine Arts.
Professor Sunil Ariyaratne, Somaratna Dissanayake and Vajira Chithrasena were also honored with merit Doctorates by Professor Jayasena Kottegoda the Vice Chancellor of the university. Rohana Weerasinghe honored with the title “Sangeetha Shuri”. Veteran Musicians Shelton Premaratene and Victor Ratnayake were also honored with this title in previous years.
Dimadugodage Rohana Chitra Kumara Weerasinghe was born on February 18 in 1949 to Dimadugodage Henry Weerasinghe, the Village Headman of Blackpool, Nuwara-Eliya and Sapalin Weerasinghe as the youngest of nine siblings. Rohana studied at Nuwara-Eliya Convent and entered Welimada Central after achieving a Grade 5-scholarship. He did his A/Ls at Dharmapala Vidyalaya, Pannipitiya, and entered the College of Fine Arts at Heywood. He was elected as the President of the Student Union, when he was a second year student. Rohana was a pioneer who fought for get the University status for the college, which was successful in 1978 by awarding Bachelor of Arts degrees for 63 students. Even though they left the college much earlier the Doctorate is a much deserved one than an award.
Heywood was not only a learning institution and a union battle field for Rohana, but also was the place where he met his soul mate Beatrice. She was studying dancing while Rohana was studying music, the two openly expressed their feelings to each other on 5th April 1971 on which day the college was closed due to “April riots”. The two got married on 1977 and blessed with two children Kalindu and Chirath.
Rohana Weerasinghe started music composition in 1970-71 period when he was a student at Heywood and it was for one of his class mates Malini Bulathsinghala. The veteran musician is the most incomparable musician and composer of Sri Lanka and is best known as the Sri Lankan “A R. Rahuman”. During his over 38 years period of music career he composed over 3,000 melodies for over 700 artists. His contribution for the Films,Stage Dramas and Tele Dramas was awarded in numerous occasions, he holds the record for directing background music for most number of Tele Dramas.
He has been the Advisor to the President for Cultural and Aesthetic Affairs since 2006. Rohana has been working towards the development of the Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs in the country. He is concentrating on the foreign commercials and teledramas that have been telecast in many private channels in Sri Lanka which directly affect the local industry. Rohana also took the initiative to bring the Bill to the Parliament under the Intellectual Property Act, to pay the lyricist, musician and the singer of the songs telecast in all the channels both in radio and TV. Some may criticize this Doctorate initiated through a political interference, but the fact remains that he is a living legend of Sri Lankan music.
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