Prof. Preethi De Silva

Preethi de Silva is founder and music director of Con Gioia Early Music Ensemble and has performed extensively on the harpsichord and fortepiano as soloist and chamber musician and lecturer in the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sri Lanka. Born in Sri Lanka, where she received her early musical training, she later studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London, and the Hochschule für Musik, Berlin, earning diplomas in performance and teaching, and at Yale University, where she earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree. She is the winner of numerous awards and fellowships, including several from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD, Germany), JDR 3rd Fund (New York), a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship, and the prestigious Erwin Bodky Award for early music performance. In 2006 she received an Exceptional Achievement Award from the Sri Lanka Foundation, Los Angeles. Preethi de Silva’s recordings of several volumes of keyboard works by J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, J.G. Müthel, and Mozart have received extraordinary international critical acclaim. Her publications include music for harpsichord and oboe. As well, she has composed works for solo harpsichord and string quartet. Her book, Fortepiano Writings of Streicher, Dieudonné, and the Schiedmayers, on early nineteenth–century German manuals and a previously unpublished workshop notebook on fortepianos, was published by The Edwin Mellen Press and in 2008 was awarded The Adèle Mellen Prize “for its distinguished contribution to scholarship.” She is the lead harpsichordist in Con Gioia’s compact disc of J.S. Bach’s concertos for harpsichord. In summer 2011, First Hand Records (U.K.) released Harmonic Labyrinth, which includes her recordings of C.P.E. Bach’s Folies d’Espagne and her own compositions for harpsichord, as well as J.S. Bach’s Sonata in G minor viola da gamba and harpsichord (with Sri Lankan ’cellist Rohan de Saram). In summer 2011 she delivered the 21st annual Susan George Pulimood Memorial Oration, “Why Music Matters” at her alma mater, Visakha Vidyalaya, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and in March 2012 Con Gioia was invited to perform in the renowned Concerts from the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

Selected Press Reviews

“[Preethi] De Silva impressed us as a musician of great accomplishment and originality…. Undoubtedly, the most interesting aspect of her recital was the inclusion of two of her own compositions…intriguing for their taut structures, silvery bird-like fragments of melody and rhythms….valuable additions to the harpsichord repertory.

The Daily Telegraph, London

“Ms. de Silva has a profound understanding of [CPE] Bach’s idiosyncratic language, and she commands the range of dynamic control and nuance so necessary in this music.”

Early Music (Oxford, 1995)

“She moves effortlessly from wit to virtuosity to expressive or fantastic passages, [in CPE Bach: Keyboard Works, vol. I], rarely crossing the narrow dividing line between the expressive and self-indulgent.”

Early Music (Oxford, 1994)

“Preethi de Silva’s playing is delicate. She… uses the instrument colorfully and phrases with a refined sense of style.”

Die Welt, Berlin

“With spellbinding dexterity, and full of temperament, she played works by Georg Böhm, Louis Couperin, Jacques Duphly, Scarlatti, and Bach.”

Hamburger Abendblatt

“Preethi de Silva is a brilliant harpsichordist, who like no other harpsichordist can restrain herself and allows the music to sparkle… resulting in a radiant and very clearly structured interpretation [of four concertos by J.S. Bach].”

Toccata (Regensburg), Germany

“Preethi de Silva is one of Southern California’s most cherished musical treasures.”

Huffington Post