Dr. Sumudi Suraweera

Director and co-founder of Musicmatters

Drummer, Educator, Band leader

Sumudi Suraweera (born 1982) obtained his PhD in ethnomusicology in 2010 from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. His research focused on Sri Lankan Low-Country traditional drumming. Prior to this, he completed a Bachelor of music in jazz, majoring in drums. Sumudi started off his career as a musician in New Zealand where he performed regularly for nearly 10 years in the local jazz scene.

Sumudi returned to Sri Lanka in 2010 to set up Musicmatters. Ten years on, it has grown from 20 to 200 students and has built a strong reputation for offering a holistic musical education for children in Sri Lanka. Besides the school, for the past decade, Sumudi has been actively involved in organizing festivals and concerts with the Musicmatters Collective, whose primary objective is to build an experimental and improvised music scene in Colombo. Some of the events that are worth noting are the Musicmatters Festival which occurred annually from 2012-2017 and the Big Ears Music series which has been presenting monthly concerts for improvised music since 2010. In 2018, Sumudi set up the Sound Room as a makeshift performance venue within Musicmatters with an aim of later setting up a dedicated venue for non-commercial music in Colombo. 

Sumudi has been an active musician in Colombo for the past decade. Some of the projects he leads are Baliphonics, Serendib Sorcerers and Musicmatters Transcoastal Collective which draw upon Sri Lankan traditional music, placing it in a contemporary setting. Baliphonics in particular, has recently gained some international exposure with performances in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Earlier this year, Sumudi released his debut solo EP “Low Country Drum Set Solos” as a result of several years of performance practice research into adapting Sri Lankan drumming onto the drum set. His latest project, initiated in partnership with Christian Lorenzen as a Virtual Residencies program from the Goethe Institut is in response to some of the prevailing environmental issues of Sri Lanka.