Nilusha Dassenaike is an award-winning artist who has the unique distinction of graduating from both the School of Music and the School of Art at the Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne where she obtained a Bachelor Degree in Music (Improvisation - Voice) and a Bachelor of Fine Art (Printmaking). She has also completed a Graduate Diploma of Education (Music) at the University of Melbourne and completed a Master of Philosophy at the Australian National University the dissertation titled 'Traditional Sinhala Folk Music: Its Vocal Traditions and Stylistic Nuances'. Nilusha is an Honorary Fellow of the Victorian College of the Arts, the University of Melbourne.
Nilusha’s musical scope incorporates performances as a vocalist, composer, arranger and improviser. These elements can be heard through the original recording projects she is engaged in which includes solo projects as well as Alex & Nilusha, Wintersweet Vocal Ensemble, Araliya Vocal Ensemble, Singing For The City R&B Gospel Choir and Passages.
Her collaborative project Alex & Nilusha with percussionist Alex Pertout has a new release Tales To Tell (2014) which features legendary guitarist Mike Stern (Miles Davis), Paul Grabowsky, Hossam Ramzy (Robert Plant, Chick Corea), Edsel Gomez (Dee Dee Bridgewater), Alan Plachta (Argentina), Miroslav Bukovsky, Andrea Keller, Evripides Evripidou, Craig Newman among others. The release won a 'Premio Internacional' at the XIX 2015 Cubadisco Music Awards in Havana, Cuba.
Moments In Time received critical acclaim (The Australian, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Jazz Planet, Drumscene) and was 'Feature Album of the Week' on ABC Jazz. The album was also voted as one of the 'Top 5 Jazz Releases of 2012' by Ivan Lloyd on Jazz Notes on ABC Jazz.
Alex & Nilusha have received invitations to perform nationally and internationally at festivals and concerts and have supported artists such as jazz heavy weight Christian McBride and bass, voice and percussion virtuoso Richard Bona.
Nilusha has released her solo album The Lotus Verses, which features eight original compositions that reflect the rare coupling of Sri Lankan folk music and contemporary jazz. This project was funded by Arts Victoria. She has also established Wintersweet Vocal Ensemble, which is a new project that Nilusha writes and arranges her original compositions for.
Nilusha has had the opportunity to introduce traditional Sri Lankan folk music to the Victorian College of the Arts, a first of its kind; she writes and arranges traditional songs and poems for the Araliya Vocal Ensemble. at VCA and has performed with this ensemble at various Melbourne Jazz Festivals and at venues such as Hamer Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre, Playbox Theatre, Chapel off Chapel, Federation Square and BMW Edge.
Nilusha’s first rate musicianship has found her taking part in a wide range of artistic activities from jazz to pop, including performances with Hugh Jackman, Renee Geyer, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Jessica Mauboy, ‘80s icon Kim Wilde (UK), Guy Sebastian master drummer David Jones, Dave Valentin (USA), James Morrison, Kate Ceberano, Jon Stevens, Tom E. Lewis, Don Burrows, Shane Howard, Joe Geia, Kutcha Edwards, Australian rock legend Stevie Wright (Easy Beats), John Paul Young, Wendy Matthews, Glenn Shorrock (LRB), Ross Wilson (Daddy Cool, Mondo Rock), Grace Knight and Daryl Braithwaite among others.
Nilusha has vast studio recording experience in sessions for albums, television and jingles recording with Renee Geyer, David Campbell, Bob Sedergreen, Monique diMattina, Andrew De Silva, Ross McLennan, Dami Im among others. She was featured in the main theme for the drama series Canal Road, has taken part in the television orchestras for X-Factor, Australia’s Got Talent, Carols By Candlelight, The Footy Show and has sang lead on jingles for O’Brien’s Glass, Mitre 10, Kayser Lingerie and Myer. She has also been a featured vocalist and resident vocal arranger for television variety shows such as Singing Bee, Celebrity Singing Bee, X Factor, Australia’s Got Talent, It Takes Two and Hey, Hey It’s Saturday. As a featured soloist Nilusha has been invited to perform the national anthem at numerous sporting events and ceremonies including the prestigious Box Day Test Match (MCG), 10th Anniversary of 9/11 and Independence Day for the The US Consulate, One Day Series Cricket Finals (MCG), Super V8 Cars (Sandown Racecourse) and Rugby Union (Etihad Stadium).
Nilusha also has extensive teaching experience tutoring principal studies, directing small ensembles, choirs and world music ensembles, thesis supervision and assessment in the undergraduate, honours, masters and foundation programs at VCA and MCM, the University of Melbourne and NMIT.
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