Natasha Senanayake ’11 is making her mark on the international music scene. A graduate of the Petrie School of Music, Natasha won the inaugural 2014 Commonwealth Music Competition on the eve of the Commonwealth Games Glasgow.
Senanayake, originally from Sri Lanka, swept the competition with her entry “United We Stand.”
Inspired by the theme: ‘music for peace and development,’ more than 4,000 music compositions were submitted from all 53 countries. She was one of the five finalists short-listed from over 4,000 entries and is one of only a handful of female composers in Sri Lanka.
She received a recording contract, a 2015 Commonwealth Gala Concert performance of her winning composition and a 12 month role as a “Commonwealth Music Ambassador,” which commenced in March 2015.
“This song stands as an example of the marriage of cultures, demonstrating love, peace and mutual respect…”
“This song describes the coming together of nations, political, and religious differences aside, for a common purpose in this case the Commonwealth Games,” Natasha said. “It stands as an example of the marriage of cultures, demonstrating how love, peace and mutual respect can be fostered through an opportunity for competition and collaboration.”
Natasha had been at Converse for only one semester when she became the first woman to receive a commission from the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka. Natasha worked with Dr. Scott Robbins, Professor of Musicology and Composition, on this piece for full orchestra which she titled Of Shores Near and Far. The work received its world premiere in Sri Lanka, in 2008. Natasha said, “Dr. Robbins is first person who truly helped me to identify my capabilities as a composer and prepared me for a career in composition. He was a teacher, mentor and friend. I am a composer today, thanks to him.”
Music is in Natasha’s genes; she comes from a long line of professional musicians. Both her great grandfather and great-great grandfather were professional musicians, composers and music teachers. She credits her time at Converse College for much of her success. “The years I spent at the Petrie School of Music changed my life completely,” Natasha said. “The professors I had there, the people I met, and the friends I made shaped me into becoming a confident woman who was ready to begin a professional career in music. The college created a very supportive environment where my skills flourished and I learned I was capable of doing things I had never imagined I could do.”
In addition to her work as a composer, Natasha is a music director, choral director and music teacher. She has a comprehensive list of musical works to her name in various genres including world music, film, contemporary classical, choral, pop and musical theatre.