Nirmal Chandraratna was born to Sri Lankan parents in Rochester, New York, where his father landed his first position as a cardiologist. After experiencing the blistering cold of one winter there, the tropic-blooded family immediately transferred to warmer climes and eventually landed in Palos Verdes, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.
Nirmal began studying cello at 9 years and continued until the end of his undergraduate years at Brown University. There he received his BA in Music, led a jazz a cappella group and arranged music for a 24-member cello choir. After taking some inspiring music theory courses with the composer Ron Nelson, Nirmal found his passion in music composition.
He received his Masters in Music in 1998 from San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he concentrated on vocal composition and opera, and then further explored dramatic music at the BMI Lehmen Engel Musical Theater workshop in New York City.
In 2010, Nirmal discovered Kirtan, a call-and-response practice of singing mantra, and fell in love with Kirtan's intentionality and immersive nature. He began studying Sanskrit, Eastern philosophy and mantra, and has been leading Kirtan ever since; he's sung Kirtan in the Netherlands, Quebec, Boston, New England, upstate New York and New York City. Kirtan and mantra have influenced his other compositions in his desire to continue to include the audience into a musical experience in an intentional manner, and he also offers guided meditations on the chakras, Sound Journeys, live music for yoga classes, and other creative offerings.