Explore new possibilities! | Daily News

Explore new possibilities!

On today’s T&C, we have the pleasure of sitting down for a chat with another talented individual from Los Angeles in US who has made Sri Lanka proud. He has enhanced audiences all across the globe with his inborn talent, and his father was the main source of inspiration for our protagonist to pursue his music career.

His dad, Gamini Balasooriya was a professional Actor and a musician from Sri Lanka, and he also worked playing instrumentation for various artistes on Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. So here we are, yet focusing on another international icon, and meet Mahesh Balasooriya!

A dad is a son’s first hero, and his main source of inspiration, so it was the same for young Mahesh as well, and he was honoured to be blessed by his spirit in the world of music. His dad played many songs for him, Sri Lankan music, American music, and his own songs was a blessing to his ears and soul growing up. As a kid he was surrounded by music, being born to a musical background, and nevertheless, music was his first love which made him become what he is today. Mahesh always wanted to be like his father, and he guided him on a musical path filled with magical aspirations.

This as a result of his dad’s inspiration and his dedication, he was able to perform in front of the world’s best personalities in various fields, performing with Stevie Wonder in the Henry Mancini Orchestra with the famous John Williams conducting the first week opening Disney Hall , Performed for Ray Charles and Quincy Jones at a prestigious charity event for the blind at the Prestigious Beverly Hilton , for many prestigious personnel at major events, especially some major fundraising for a good cause. Oscar De La Hoya, Phil Ramone, President Clinton, Hilary Clinton, Richard Rodin, Al Gore, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Deniro, James Brown, and many others. He has been quoted by jazz radio sponsor popular radio host Chuck Niles of 88.1 KLON as “The Charlie Parker of Sri Lanka” on the radio station, at the age of 12 with just under one year of playing experience for the saxophone! Even through high school with many AP classes and working as a professional musician outside of school, he maintained 4.0 GPA: and full scholarship to USC. University of Southern California, one of the best Universities in the country.’ He received his scholarship was from celebrity actor Richard Dreyffus.

Creativity flowed effortlessly through my veins throughout high school, he was in such deep inspiration with classical music, most especially with Composers Chopin and Rachmaninoff. As a result, he composed an entire PIANO CONCERTO written for 60-piece orchestra and piano. 15 minutes, 3 movements, a giant feat based solely off of pure inspiration, which drove motivation and execution. He composed this with no training with music or in composition, still self-taught to this day. 17 YEARS OF AGE, performed with the Hamilton Symphony, and recorded with the Colburn school Chamber Orchestra. Adding more feathers to his cap, he also film scored the movie Shards at the age of 19 and wrote and conducted for the orchestra.

Mahesh was also the winner performer of the year all four years at Hamilton Music Academy where he received a baby grand piano, which up to this day he reflects on with much fondness. He was selected as one of two pianists, out of millions, worldwide competition for the Henry Mancini orchestra consisting of unforgettable historical concerts, with the some of the major legends in the industry, Christian Mc Bride, Vinnie Caliouta, Larry Goldings, Roy Hargrove, John Clayton, and many more. He has won numerous international accolades and achieved so many prestigious positions as an outstanding musician ever since he was a 12 year old. His list of accolades is endless, he has worked with all the big names in the international scene, and of course this talented musician makes us proud to be Sri Lankan. On one hand, he can be named as an unofficial ambassador, or rather, a musical ambassador who spreads Sri Lanka’s name all across the globe, and he has worked with the legendary Engelbert Humperdinck as pianist and music director, worked with numerous bands and symphonies, including the Prague Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Cleveland Symphony and Clayton /Hamilton big band, to performing in prestigious venues such as the Royal Albert concert hall in London.

He even performed a Sri Lankan song, ‘Unmada wu Premadare’ to the Dubai audience while he was at the Versace hotel residency working under Quincy Jones, and received a huge response by 340,000 views on Facebook, just a few months ago. He states that he has never felt the pressure when performing, and he’s excited to share his spiritual healing and inspiration through music for all his audiences.

He is privileged and blessed to share his gift to the world, and takes the utmost pleasure in what he’s sharing with his talent. We could go on about his amazing musician, but let’s listen to Mahesh now to share his experiences, memories and his best moments as a musician with us on today’s T&C.


Q: Tell us a little about youself?

I was born and raised in the US, Los Angeles , CA. Son to Gamini and Ayesha Balsooriya, brother to Shamen Balasooriya. I grew here with no extended family my whole life.

Q: You started acting at a very young age , performing in many TV shows, even attending classes in Beverly Hills and being a part of the SAG and afra acting guild . What made you switch to music?

My dad used to be an actor in Sri Lanka, so he pushed me in to that field at a very young age. I took some classes in Beverly Hills and joined SAG and Aftra acting guild. I acted on many famous tv shows such as General Hospital, 7th Heaven, Boy Meets World, Parenthood, Nick Freno, Grace Under Fire, Sinbad, inlcluding some famous movies, Naked Gun 33 1/3, Face-Off, Matilda, so many other works. All the kids at my school loved to see me on TV every week, it was a few tv series that aired weekly. I really enjoyed acting, I was getting very busy with more work, but it was contradicting with my school schedule. So I decided to focus on my studies. But I would always love to do it again.

Q: You had the opportunity of performing at many prestigious events, and also performing in front of celebrities such as Robert DeNiro, Arnold Shwarzenneger, and Ray Davis, to personalities like president Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, President Obama and many more. How would you reflect on that?

Yes, performing for the presidents was an absolutely exhilarating and honourable experience. It was ecstatic to meet the presidents and shake their hand. I was truly blessed to be a part of both experiences.

Q: Out of these experiences, what’s the most memorable performance?

Playing with Stevie Wonder and John Williams was an unforgettable experience. I was 18 at the time playing with the Henry Mancini Orchestra, during the first week opening of the prestigious Disney Hall. It blew me away because I didn’t know he was going to perform with us, he made his appearance during the soundcheck , and I was completely blown away !we performed the song Moon River , Stevie Wonder alongside with Take 6 conducted by John Williams.

Q: What was it like, working with famous artistes and directors, and also the famous Natalie Cole?

Performing with late great Natalie Cole was absolutely an incredible experience. We got to fly in a private jet, performed at the most prestigious venues around the world, work with some of the major symphonies around the world including Prague Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and got to explore all of the countries we visited. Most particularly in the musical sense, she was an absolute professional. We never had one rehearsal, 350 songs, and she would call the set list of tunes 10 minutes before the show! it kept me on my toes as a musician! Plus working with her taught me the art of being an accompanist in many different genres and expression, creatively. At one moment, I would accompany her with like an orchestra or the Piano. Other times like a pop or Bruce Hornsby style, or keeping the pocket in the R&B setting. Next moments it’s just me and her with no time at all , just spiritual Spontaneity , complimenting each other. It was an incredible position to be in as a pianist. She actually told me I reminded her of her father, the Great Nat King Cole! I was absolutely honored to be a part of the experience! May she rest in peace.

Q: How would you describe your amazing talent as a pianist and its benefits?

All of the performance opportunities and traveling I’ve done as a musician has deepened my spiritual horizons in my music. Meeting other people around the world of different cultures and ethnicities was beautiful. It was a privilege to share my music for every around the world, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. It’s also interesting tapping in to music from different parts of the globe and incorporating those influences in to my expression.

Q: Do you include Sinhala music too, when you perform?

Sri Lankan music is in my blood, I grew playing and listening to Sri Lankan music thanks to my dad. If I were to choose the greatest Sri Lankan musician who has inspired me the most - it’s my dad’s music. I also admired Pandit Amaradeva and I had the priviledge of performing for him in LA just before he passed away. I’m looking forward to record many Sri Lankan songs, and would love to work with Sri Lankan artists in the future.

Q: How has the pandemic affected the international music industry?

COVID-19 has definitely impacted the entertainment industry around the world. For me, I had to postpone many tours due to COVID. But I still am working safely and providing healing through music as much as possible. During this time all musicians should stay safe and channel inspiration and positivity in preparation for giving healing to world through music.

Q: Looking back at your journey so far, how would you feel?

I am creating and innovating all the time 24/7, always exploring new possibilities and always traveling to infinite universes thanks to the blessing of music. I am in the process of working on series of albums consisting of many different projects.

It’s an incredible healing and always an exhilarating journey.