Members of the De Lanerolle family in Sri Lanka have always been in the business of manufacturing and exporting tea. So, it came as a big surprise to the family when the sons — Rohan and Ishan De Lanerolle, decided to pursue their passion — music in a big way.
While the family business remained the priority and focus, Rohan and Ishan began learning and training in music. Sri Lanka doesn’t have many venues and institutions offering lessons in music, points out Rohan, the eldest of the two.
“My family business required me to travel to London, so I used the opportunity to learn the techniques of music in music schools in London, which I passed onto my brother. This is the beginning. Today, we sing everything from pop, classical, western to sacred music,” explain Rohan and Ishan who performed in the City, recently.
The brothers are proud about their repertoire. Without any support from their own country, the duo, have come along way. They have performed with some of the best names in the music industry such as four-time Grammy Award winner Olivia Newton John, jazz and blues singer Aaron Neville, The Bellamy Brothers, The ‘Platters’ featuring the legendary Monroe Powell and British singers Helen Massey, Sarah Johnson and Sara Hague to mention a few. “I am always amazed by the vast talent around us. There’s so much world music and we get asked all the time how we keep pace with the competition. But, I wouldn’t like to call the music scenario competitive. Each musician and band, is unique and different, in their own way. There’s so much to share with each other,” adds Ishan.
The brothers are on vocals and are always accompanied by Niranjan de Silva on the piano. While Rohan practices whenever he manages to grab sometime between his work and travel, Ishan is constantly in touch with music because he teaches a small group of students in his house. “There are no organised music schools or institutions that teach music, so Ishan teaches a bunch of interested students at home and this way, he stays in touch with music. We never get time to practice closer to our music tours. Finding time is always a challenge,” they say.
Rohan thinks it is important to keep their voices in perfect condition. “Just like a machine needs oil and good maintenance for a smooth run, our passion keeps us going,” he adds.
All their concerts are interactive and thoroughly engaging. “I believe music is like a dialogue between the performer and the audience. There’s a lot of communication is music, so we always get members of the audience, to sing along,” adds Rohan.
This is not the first that the brothers have flown into the City. “We have performed in Bengaluru several times on invitation from different institutions and everytime we’ve performed here I’ve found the audience to be very well-informed. They understand our music,” Rohan says.
The ‘De Lanerolle Brothers’ will soon make the Australian debut, later this year and also perform in Malaysia, London and Singapore.