Ethnomusicology could be broadly described as a holistic investigation of music in its diverse cultural contexts. The term ethnomusicology itself can be broken down as such: ‘ethno’ = people, and ‘musicology’ = the study of music. Thus, in the process of defining its study field, ethnomusicology combines perspectives from a wide variety of disciplines such as ethnology, cultural anthropology, musicology, folklore, linguistics, history, psychology, music theory, and even medicine. This disciplinary variety has resulted in several distinct definitions of ethnomusicology in different parts of the world. Attitudes and foci of ethnomusicologists have evolved since initial studies in comparative musicology and folk music research from the early 1900s. According to some American scholars from the second half of the 20th century, ethnomusicology is a theoretical and empirical study amalgamating both musicology and anthropology (Willard Rhodes, 1956), study of music in culture (Alan P. Merriam, 1964), a product of Western thinking – “ethnomusicology as western culture knows it is actually a western phenomenon (Bruno Nettl, 1983), and the study of “people making music” (Jeff Todd Titon, 1992). 

Dr. Lasanthi Manaranjanie Kalinga Dona is a proficient ethnomusicologist, singer, and violinist, senior lecturer at the Department of Fine Arts of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. She was the liaison officer for Sri Lanka in the International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance (ICTMD) since 2008, and in January 2022 became the Chairperson of its Sri Lankan National Committee. 

Lasanthi was born to parents in the teaching profession. Her father was a teacher of mathematics and a music afficionado, who loved to sing and play many musical instruments in his leisure time. Lasanthi passionately followed him and developed a desire to become a singer. Her mother, though, had another dream. She wanted Lasanthi, the third out of their six children, to go for an academic study of music.  

Lasanthi took her study of music seriously, and selected violin and voice majors under the guidance of her first teacher, Mr. P.A. Victor, whom she met at the Japalawatte President’s College in Minuwangoda. Her further gurus included Ms. Shantha Ramani Dias, Mr. Layanal Liyanawatte, and renowned violinist Mr. B. Victor Perera, who had already successfully trained many reputed musicians in Sri Lanka. She won a gold medal teenage title for the best violinist in all island school competition. Later, she passed the audition at the SLBC (Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation) as a violinist, never forgetting to credit her parents and teachers, as can be seen in a YouTube interview: Music and Wellbeing for the World | Dr. Lasanthi Manaranjanie ( 

In 1991, she received Vadya Visharad and Sangit Visharad degrees from the Bhathkhande Sangeet Vidyapith, Lucknow, India, and entered the study at the University of Kelaniya. Four years later, she completed the study earning a special degree of Fine Arts with First Class honors. Right after graduation, she became a temporary assistant lecturer for music at the same department of the University of Kelaniya, and in 1999 became a permanent lecturer at Sri Palee Campus of the University of Colombo. In 2002, she started the Master of Music study in North Indian classical music (violin) under the guidance of Prof. V. Balaji at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India. This training for a concert artist ended in 2004 with a first class M.Mus.( Music Masters) Degree. Dr. Lasanthi Manaranjanie North Indian classical music) – Raga Yaman ( 

After returning to Sri Lanka, she became the head of the Department of Fine Arts, gave some concerts and her full service to the Sri Palee Campus. In a short while, in 2005, she won a scholarship to Shanghai Conservatory of Music to pursue her PhD. Degree. Following the year of learning Chinese, she became a student of Prof. Dr. Xiao Mei at the Department of Ethnomusicology. She has many positive memories of this period.

Two and a half years later, invited by Prof. Dr. Svanibor Pettan from the University of Ljubljana in a gorgeous central European country Slovenia, Lasanthi took a chance to transfer her doctoral study from Shanghai to Ljubljana. Co-supervised by Slovenian musicologist Prof. Dr. Leon Stefanija and German psychotherapist Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. Wolfgang Mastnak, she earned her PhD degree at the Department of Musicology of the University of Ljubljana in 2010 with the dissertation titled Therapeutic Aspects of South Asian Music’s: Case Studies from Sri Lanka and North India. Here she brought together two major disciplines: ethnomusicology (particularly medical ethnomusicology) and music therapy. In the first part, she discussed traditional Sri Lankan healing rituals and their therapeutic aspects and in the second her work with the Austrian Heart Association in applying Indian classical music to the treatment of high blood pressure patients.  

During her study and afterwards, she shared her musical and cultural understanding, knowledge, and skills of Indian and Sri Lankan music’s with students at the universities of Ljubljana and Maribor in Slovenia and at several other universities in Europe, Asia, and North America including Austria, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Croatia, India, Rwanda, Serbia, Taiwan, Turkey, and USA. At the same time she was developing her concert artistry, first as a violinist in Hindustani classical music and later as a vocalist: LASANTHI: South Asian Express (Sri Lanka, India, Slovenia) Imago Sloveniae. From 2013 on, taking the role of a singer, she commenced a Slovenian ensemble named “Lasanthi” with four Slovenian classical instrumentalists trained in Western classical music to present Sri Lankan music’s in Europe . The ensemble focused on diverse Sri Lankan soundscapes, from folk songs to Indian influenced genre Nurthi and Indian influenced popular songs such as ‘Marambari’, ‘Akashaye kurullo’, ‘Awasana mohotha mage’, to Afro-Portuguese influenced ‘Irene Josephine’, to film songs such as “Sanda Komali”, to popular sarala gi songs like ‘Mal Hina’ and ‘Eetha Ran Viman’. In 2016, three years later after their establishment, the ensemble published their first album under the title: Musical Images of Sri Lanka (Glasbene Podobe Srilanke) in Slovenia. Music, the healthy tonic | Sunday Observer  In 2013, Lasanthi’s first book titled Music and Healing Rituals of Sri Lanka: Their Relevance for Community Music Therapy and Medical Ethnomusicology: Music and Healing Rituals of Sri Lanka (Their Relevance For Community Music Therapy and Medical Ethn by Dr. K. D. Lasanthi Manaranjanie (978-955-30-4034-3) – Lakpura LLC was published and presented it in several countries in Europe: Music and Healing Rituals of Sri Lanka, book presentation by dr. K. D. Lasanthi Manaranjanie | Slovenski etnografski muzej ( Her research work in various international journals and books that I have found in Research Gate:Lasanthi KALINGA DONA | University of Kelaniya, Kelaniya | Department of Fine Arts | Research profile ( 

As a researcher, performer, and lecturer, Lasanthi got a chance to serve in important juries on an international scale. For six years (2010-2015), she was a member of the advisory committee of the State Musical Review of Children and Youngsters with Special needs Let’s Sing, Play Musical Instruments, and Dance in Slovenia, and for five years (2011-2015) a member of the Jury of the International Ethno Festival-Contest Voices of the Golden Steppe in Astrakhan, Russia. Since 2008, she has also served as a member of the Advisory Board of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies.

Lasanthi lived and worked in Europe for about 13 years from 2007 until 2020. Her engagement as a vocalist in the “Lasanthi” ensemble later turned into a charity concept. Missing and keeping in her mind her own old parents in Sri Lanka, Lasanthi and her ensemble started giving intergenerational solidarity concerts in elderly homes in Slovenia. To enhance communication and understanding of Sri Lankan cultural idioms, she agreed to translate Sinhalese song lyrics into Slovene language. Lasanthi thanked Natasa Jereb, one of the ensemble members, for helping her translate Sinhalese songs into good Slovene language. She mentioned that in such charity concerts for the elderly, the ensemble also performed Slovenian folk songs.  Later, the translated Sri Lankan songs found a way to the ensemble’s public performances. In 2014, when she was participating in the international jury in Astrakhan, Russia, Lasanthi was invited to give a concert of Slavic songs. She said that thanks to that invitation, she learned several beautiful Slavic songs from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.  

During her life and work in Europe, Lasanthi took every opportunity to promote Sri Lanka, its culture, and music. Now, being back at the University of Kelaniya, she is in an ideal position to work with the upcoming generations and to bring them to the World platform through their artistic creativity, innovation, and dedicated research. We wish her all the best and hope that Sri Lanka will take use of and benefit from her expertise! 

Sunil Thenabadu in Brisbane

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