Can Suhash bring back

Published : 9:02 am  September 11, 2017 | No comments so far |  |  (248) reads | 

 the Sax to life?


  • Progress of a promising young musician determined to make a name as a saxophonist 

ffffffffSaxophones were once widely used in Sri Lankan music, and many bands were proud to include a saxophonist. But the DJ culture, the passing away of iconic band leaders such as Stanley Pieris and changing musical tastes have all but disappeared this warm, rewarding and soul-wrenching instrument from our music culture (except the rather -esoteric Colombo Jazz Scene).   

Therefore, it was heartwarming to see a young saxophonist playing an emotionally charged version of T. M. Jayaratne’s song ‘Sithin Ma Noseli,’ on his alto saxophone, followed by ‘Blue Spanish Eyes’ made famous by singers such as Marty Robbins, Al Martino, Willie Nelson and Engelbert Humperdinck.   

LATE-CITY-DM-1-37His technical mastery of this difficult instrument was impressive. Technicalities aside, the tone colour he produced with a series of arpeggios suggested an artist with much potential for the future.   

Suhash Fernando works as a marketing executive for Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. Advertising Department.

He commutes daily to work by train from Negombo; this, plus job pressures, leave him with little time for practising now.

If he can overcome this problem, this young saxophonist has terrific potential.  There were no musicians in Suhash Fernando’s family.

 But an aunt and uncle played the guitar, and this may have influenced him to study music and join the Western Music School Band at St. Mary’s College, Negombo.  

He played the Melodica for the junior band, and went on to play the trumpet for the senior band. Suhash recalls warmly Miss Carmen, his music teacher at school, who literally dragged her pupils to music classes. He was taught the saxophone by band master Nimal Kantha. Though he was able to play it quite soon, the band preferred that he continued with the trumpet.  

Untitled-1Suhash continued to improve his saxophone technique under the tutelage of Chandana Amarasinghe, the band master of the Sri Lanka Air Force at the Katunayake base. He bought a very expensive alto saxophone after passing his Advanced Level exams, the instrument which he plays to date.  

Modelling themselves after the popular pop group the Marians, Suhash and several school friends formed a band called the Maryites. After this debut, he joined a band called Deposit from Ja Ela. In addition to the saxophone, Suhash can play rhythm guitar and his singing ability, too, is an asset to any band.   

Suhash has great hopes for the future but, like so many aspiring musicians, lives and works under considerable pressure. Finding the time to practise is the biggest problem so far.   

The music scene continues to evolve, and there is potential for brass instruments including the saxophone once again with quality-conscious bands.  It would be interesting to watch the progress of this promising young musician who is determined to make a name for himself as a saxophonist.  




Pix by Nishantha Weerasekara