Harold Seneviratne

harold-seneviratne

Harold Seneviratne, was one of the top class veteran musicians of the Sri Lankan music scene for more than half a century. His rendition of vintage dance/jazz music was of a very high quality which held Sri Lankans enthralled for several decades.

The dance band, “Harold Seneviratne Combo”, was much sought after for weddings, dances and other events in the 60’s. Harold was also responsible for the musical backing for a variety of foreign acts, regular radio broadcasts, record releases (then it was 45 rpm). Harold, a pioneer in the western music scene in old Ceylon, took to music at the tender age of thirteen while still at his ‘Alma mater’ St. Peters College He learnt his basics from *Papa’ Menezes and the late showman Donovan Andree, who nurtured his talent and encouraged him tremendously in his musical career.

Harold learnt the violin as a start to his musical career with his two brothers Tissa and Chandra under the guidance of Papa Menezes. He mastered the piano and later switched to the sax, which he was associated with and known for worldwide, till he retired a few years ago.

Initially the band comprised of Harold on and band leader, his younger brother Tissa on drums, Sepala Attygalle on violin and Nimal Mendis on Piano. Later he was joined by Adrian Ferdinands (Piano) and Milroy de Silva (Guitar/Bass).

Others who followed up to sing and play with the band were, “Champagne Blues” with Edgar Heber on Sax, “Cherry Blossom Tree” and “Goodnight Kisses” with the Jay Brothers (Jerry and his brother the late Perrin Jayasekera), “Oh My Lover” with Sandra Edema and “Butterfly in the Rain” with Cliff Foenander.

The 60s were some of the best of times, with the interaction of music, dancing and the firm friendship of a large crowd of `Bambalawatte’ boys and girls – the Pompeus family, Desmond, Carol, Mifanwy and several brothers and sisters, the Rahim family and Miriam and Mark and Oscar Seneviratne and their siblings and others.

His performances at, The Silver Fawn Night Club, The Orchid Room, The GOB and New Delhi, just to mention a few venues, are now legendary. Harold has had the honor of playing before such international personalities as Dave Brubeck and Duke Ellington. He also provided the musical backing for his schoolmate Bill Forbes, Cliff Foenander, Malcolm De Kauwe, Tony Brent, The Blue Diamonds, and other top flight international artistes.

Harold passed away a few years back much to the sadness to his family, friends and music lovers in Sri Lanka. He outlived a younger sister, Srimal, and leaves his wife, Barbara, a cousin of the Pompeus family and his son, daughters and grandchildren, his brothers Chandra, Seneka, Tissa, Ranjit, Sri Kantha, and Shanthi, sisters Indra, Mallika and Ranjani, a large extended family.

 

Thank you for the music, Sir.

Fazil Sameer

A jazz drummer who followed in the steps of Tom Menezes. Having moved to Saudi Arabia since 1979, Fazli enjoys his retired life by teaching drumming for school kids.

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