The SOSL is oldest orchestra in the South Asian region that has been performing continuously throughout its existence. The Symphony Orchestra of Ceylon, as it was called then, was established by the panel for Western Music, Dance and Drama of the Arts Council of Ceylon in 1958. One of the key figures in the SOSL’s history is Kala Keerthi Dr. Earle De Fonseka, who stood at its helm from 1960 to 2000. The position of conductor of the SOSL has since been held by Lalanath De Silva, Dr. Ajit Abeysekera, Ananda Dabare, Manilal Weerakoon, Eshantha Peiris, and at present, Dushyanthi Perera. The orchestra has also benefitted greatly from the guidance of visiting conductors like Gregory Rose, James Ross, Keiko Kobayashi and Ksenia Zharko. Currently the SOSL in jointly led by two extremely accomplished young violinists—Nilupul Silva and Sulara Nanayakkara. The SOSL has also developed the JSO or Junior Symphony Orchestra as a training-ground for younger players, providing valuable opportunities for students to learn the arts of orchestral and ensemble playing while developing both technically and musically. The SOSL regularly organizes outreach programs, for which the orchestra has travelled as far as Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Galle, Kandy and Kurunegala in order to perform educational concert-lectures that have not only helped to awaken interest in classical music, but have also enabled music students to see and hear live orchestral music for the first time in their lives. The SOSL has since its inception, been a bastion of classical and orchestral music in this country. It has nurtured and shaped the career of many a musician, has for over 60 years been one of the only sources of live symphonic music in the country, and has actively been involved in education and training for much of its history.
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