Preethi de Silva

Preethi de Silva is founder and music director of Con Gioia and has performed extensively on the harpsichord and fortepiano as soloist and chamber musician in the United States, the UK, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Sri Lanka. London’s Daily Telegraph praised her as “a musician of great accomplishment and imagination.” 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 also participated in workshops by harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt and fortepianist Malcolm Bilson. She is the winner of numerous awards and fellowships, including several from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), The JDR 3rd Fund, 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 keyboard works by C.P.E. Bach, J. G. Müthel, and Mozart have garnered extraordinary international critical acclaim. The journal Early Music (Oxford) recognized her for her “profound understanding of [C.P.E.] Bach’s idiosyncratic language.” 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Writings of Streicher, Dieudonné, and the Schiedmayers, on early nineteenth–century German manuals and a previously unpublished workshop notebook on fortepianos, was published by The Edwin Mellen Press and in 2008 was awarded The Adèle Mellen Prize “for its distinguished contribution to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.  In 2010 and 2011, she presented recitals and master classes in Hong Kong and Singapore. She is Professor emerita of music, Scripps College, Claremont, and currently serves as adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University. Her recordings of C.P.E Bach’s complete Six Collections of Keyboard Works for Connoisseurs and Amateurs will be released in 2012–2013.

Selected press reviews

“… a musician of great accomplishment and imagination.”

The Daily Telegraph, London

Preethi de Silva [director of Con Gioia and lead soloist in this recording [on Centaur records] is a brilliant harpsichordist, who like no other harpsichordist can restrain herself and allow the music to sparkle… resulting in a radiant and very clearly structured interpretation [of four concertos by J.S. Bach].

Toccata (Germany)

“This record, which is titled Keyboard Music in the Empfindsamer Style, is an absolute knockout…. Her technical grasp and understanding of C.P.E. Bach’s music are nothing short of perfect.”

Fanfare Magazine (USA)

“The recording [with works by C.P. E. Bach and J.G. Müthel] with Preethi de Silva is among the most fascinating recordings of the Titanic label…. The interpretation is one of stupendous liveliness and virtuosity.”

Alte Musik Aktuell (Germany)

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

Laurence Vittes, Huffington Post (July 31, 2012)

“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, 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

“Preethi de Silva’s delicate playing, caressing each note, conveyed in the Fantasia in C Major an impressive sound spectrum, as performed on the Stein Fortepiano of 1775.”

Berliner Morgenpost

“Her performance distinguishes itself through vivid registrations with a broadly varied sound spectrum, through clarity in rhythm that also allows agogic playing, the most finely nuanced articulation and phrasing, subtle ornamentation, and an extraordinarily nuanced touch.”


“The pianist, harpsichordist, and composer captivated us through the elegant interpretation of her playing, which combined virtuosity and aesthetic profundity.”

Emder Zeitung, Emden

 “With spellbinding dexterity, and full of temperament, she played works by Georg Böhm, Louis Couperin, Jacques Duphly, Scarlatti, and Bach. She also understood admirably the art of enlivening unmeasured music with fluid ornamentation and of breathing life into the rhythm of the grave sarabandes.”

Hamburger Abendblatt

“ … a vivid and transparent interpretation.”

Die Union, Leipzig

“Especially impressive were the breathing, flowing gesture and the organic exchange between improvisatory free and strict fugal sections, which characterized the Toccata
in e-minor.”

Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin

“Inspired by analytically based tone-rhetoric, the artist played in a precise, superlative manner.”

Fränkischer Tag, Bamberg