Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Winston Jayawardene 1939-1982

Winston: Guitar virtuoso and musician 

by B. Chandra Perera 

Winston Jayawardena playing the classic guitar 

The Sri Lankan classic guitar virtuoso and musician who transformed himself into a greatly valued Technical Systems Consultant of the Wells Fargo Bank in the United States of America, passed away on 13 July, 1982 at the height of a brilliant career in both Electronic Data Processing (EDP) and music. Talent was brimful in him - an old Peterite and later of the Colombo University. 

He was Bernard Winston Perera Jayawardena, 43, the eldest son of the late B.W. and Srimathie Perera Jayawardena. 

Winston's early musical training was in the able hands of his mother and father who tutored him on the piano and violin and sponsored him for music examinations of the Royal College of Music, London. 

Winston's debut in the music world was as a young vocalist when he sang for a commercial recording of his Mother's Music at the age of 9. The record was produced under the "Odeon" label in 1947 and featured the baila "Gama Bata Liye". 

From then on Winston was involved in a multiplicity of musical achievement in school, with his brother Irwin and his parents, both on radio and stage. 

Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) saw the emergence of Winston with the "Harmony Hawaiians" "The Queen Creoles Skiffle" and "Rock Group" 'The Avalons" as well as with the many varied musical activities of his parents. 

Winston's interest in the "Classic Guitar" commenced in 1953 after a chance hearing of an old 78 r.p.m. record of Andres Segovia performing Turina's "Fandanguillo" and Tarrega's "Tremolo Study". 

Once the idea to learn the classic guitar was born, Winston lost no time in mastering it's techniques. Winston was the founder of the Sri Lanka Classic guitar Society which was formed in 1967. 

Winston scarified his educational career in physical science at the University of Ceylon, Colombo to continue his self-studies in the "Theory of Music" "Form in Music", Orchestration, Composition, etc. 

Due to the absence of facilities in Ceylon, Winston studied for the examinations in these fields with the English Schools of Music. He was the first successful Diploma Holder in the South East Asia region, for Theory of Music Classic Guitar Examinations conducted by the Trinity College of Music, London. 


Winston's talents also crept into the sphere of acting. He took part in many operettas and theatrical works both at school and with professional drama organizations. Winston the musician composer, singer and actor has given many performances which have always been acclaimed by Ceylonese audiences. 

During a professional visit to Ceylon in 1962 Mr. Peter Cooper, Examiner, Trinity College of Music, London studied the musical works of Winston, which included a Concestto for Piano. 

In recommending the admission of Winston to a German Conservatoire he wrote ..... "I have pleasure in recommending the work of Winston Jayawardena. He has shown great initiative in teaching himself Harmony, Counter Point and Music Theory upto L. (Mus) T.C.L. Standard. His compositions show an alert mind. 

However, Winston did not proceed to Germany due to his marriage to Trinette Charmaine Salgadoe of Kalutara. (ex Broadcast Announcer, then, Radio Ceylon). 

Winston's musical activities continued unabated as he pressed on with more and more demanding roles. As the Musical Director of Harmonics Limited Winston provided a great source of encouragement, assistance, guidance and teaching to numerous musical groups and individuals making their debuts in the musical world. He has also sponsored students for examinations with the Trinity College of Music, London. 

Winston was a Grade "A' artist at the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) performing both on channels One and Two. 

The then additional Director (Commercial Broadcasting) Livy Wijemanne said, "While I am grateful to you for your intention to dedicate the Trio to me, I would prefer if you would dedicate this composition to the Commercial Service as a whole, as it would enhance the prestige of the Service of which I am proud to be the Head. Winston was pleased to oblige. 


In a complex multicultural environment working with many talented and highly individualistic musicians, Winston was able to inspire and win confidence with his candid professionalism. 

His pleasant personality and shy and pleasing mannerisms have won him many friends who have been teaming with him in presenting to Ceylonese musical audiences a variety of musical extravaganzas. 

Winston was generous in imparting his knowledge and expertise in the areas of music theory and the techniques of the classic guitar. The many students who have worked with him have gained valuable knowledge. His contributions to further musical activities in Sri Lanka are outstanding. 

During his long musical career Winston made many public appearances in a variety of roles, viz. as a guest artist in variety entertainments, as jazz guitarist in jazz festivals, as an accompanist to local and foreign singers, as a musical director in plays and musical works, as a member of a musical group of orchestra, as a Spanish guitarist in Spanish and Latin - American musical sequences etc. 

Winston also made several guitar recitals performing major solo musical works for the classic guitar as well as musical works for guitar and orchestra. 

Winston also directed music for commercial recordings and formed small and large orchestras in schools etc. He left Sri Lanka in February 1975 to migrate to California. His last recital in Colombo was at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute on 24th February, 1975. 

In San Francisco, California, Winston joined the Data Processing Division of the Wells Fargo Bank to work on their International Systems Operational on the computer networks of the bank. 

Winston who taught himself EDP and who had limited practical experience with computers in Sri Lanka, taught Data Processing at a professional level. 

He was quick to master the techniques of the facilities available at the bank. 

He, as the Senor Systems Consultant of the bank travelled widely in the States to branch computer centres to advise and correct flaws in the banking computer network. 

His work as a Senior Systems Programmer and consultant had been invaluable and highly recognized and acclaimed by his colleagues and the bank. His loss has left a void which is difficult to fill. 

Winston did not restrict his activities to computing in California. He formed the San Francisco Classic Guitar Society and continued with the activities of furthering the guitar in San Francisco. 

He was also an active member of the "Music makers of San Francisco". This musical organization carried out activities to foster, encourage and further musical activities in San Francisco. 

Winston's participation and activities are being greatly missed by the members of this organization. 

Winston's last recital in San Francisco was on 27th March 1982 when the San Francisco Classic Guitar Society presented Dorothea Schmidt & Winston Jayawardene in concert on piano and guitar. 

Winston was also an active member of the MENSA Organization. (An organization of people with very high intelligence quotients IQs). 

Winston has left behind his wife Trinette Charmaine and his two sons Bernard Johana and Bernard Mario.

 ·  ·  · February 6, 201