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|Birth name||Karl William Pamp Jenkins|
17 February 1944 |
Penclawdd, Gower, Wales
|Genres||jazz, rock, classical|
|Instruments||Oboe, saxophone, keyboard|
|Associated acts||Adiemus, Soft Machine|
Early life and education
Jenkins was born and raised in the Gower village of Penclawdd, near Swansea, Wales. His mother was Swedish. His father, who was a local schoolteacher, chapel organist and choirmaster, gave him his initial musical instruction. Karl Jenkins attended Gowerton Grammar School.
Jenkins began his musical career as an oboist in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales. He went on to study music at Cardiff University, and then commenced postgraduate studies in London at the Royal Academy of Music, where he also met his wife and musical collaborator, Carol Barratt. He studied with Alun Hoddinott.
For the bulk of his early career Jenkins was known as a jazz and jazz-rock musician, playing baritone and soprano saxophones, keyboards and oboe, an unusual instrument in a jazz context. He joined jazz composer Graham Collier's group and later co-founded the jazz-rock group Nucleus, which won first prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1970.
In 1972 he joined the Canterbury progressive rock band Soft Machine and co-led their very last performances in 1984. The group defied categorisation and played venues as diverse as The Proms, Carnegie Hall, and the Newport Jazz Festival. The album on which Jenkins first played with Soft Machine, Six, won the Melody Maker British Jazz Album of the Year award in 1973. Jenkins also won the miscellaneous musical instrument section (as he did the following year). Soft Machine was voted best small group in the Melody Maker jazz poll of 1974. After Mike Ratledge left the band in 1976 Soft Machine did not include any of its founding members, but kept recording on a project basis with line-ups revolving around Jenkins and drummer John Marshall. Balanced against Melody Maker's positive view of the Soft Machine of 1973 and 1974, Hugh Hopper, involved with the group since replacing bassist Kevin Ayers in 1968, cites Jenkins's "third rate" musical involvement in his own decision to leave the band, and the band of the late 1970s has been described by band member John Etheridge as wasting its potential.
Jenkins has created a good deal of advertising music, twice winning the industry prize in that field. From the 1980s he developed a relationship with Bartle Bogle Hegarty, starting with composing musics for their Levi's jeans "Russian" series. Perhaps his most-heard piece of music is the classical theme used by De Beers diamond merchants for their television advertising campaign focusing on jewellery worn by people otherwise seen only in silhouette. Jenkins later included this as the title track in a compilation called Diamond Music, and eventually created Palladio, using it as the theme of the first movement. Other notable arrangements have included the "Papa? Nicole?" advertisements for the Renault Clio.
an excerpt from the piece.
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As a composer, his breakthrough came with the crossover project Adiemus. Jenkins has conducted the Adiemus project in Japan, Germany, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, and Belgium, as well as London's Royal Albert Hall and Battersea Power Station. The Adiemus: Songs of Sanctuary (1995) album topped the classical album charts. It spawned a series of successors, each revolving around a central theme.
Jenkins was the first international composer and conductor to conduct the University of Johannesburg Kingsway Choir led by Renette Bouwer, during his visit to South Africa as the choir performed his The Armed Man: A mass for peace together with a 70-piece orchestra.
Jenkins' latest choral work The Peacemakers, features texts from Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank and Mother Teresa, as well as words from the Bible and the Qur’an with some new text specially written by Terry Waite. On the 2012 record the London Symphony Orchestra is joined by different vocal forces including Rundfunkchor Berlin, the City of Birmingham Youth Chorus, and the 1000-strong "The Really Big Chorus" made up of members of UK choirs from across the country brought together in one day, in one studio, to contribute to two movements on the album. Guest artists include violinist Chloë Hanslip, soprano Lucy Crowe, Davy Spillane on Uilleann pipes, Indian bansuri player Ashwin Srinivasan and jazz musicians Nigel Hitchcock and Laurence Cottle. The album was released on 26 March 2012. The world premiere of this seventeen-movement work took place, however, in New York City's Carnegie Hall on January 16, 2012. Karl Jenkins conducted from the podium and John H. Briggs, Sr. conducted the Children's Chorus from a seated position. Mr. Briggs was the Choral Arts Conductor of one of the participating schools and its two choruses: Il Bel Canto and Die Meistersingers of Gwynn Park Middle School, MD, USA Additional concerts in the UK and USA took place later in the year.
Awards and achievements
Jenkins holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Wales. He has been made both a fellow and an associate of the Royal Academy of Music, and a room has been named in his honour. He also has fellowships at Cardiff University, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Trinity College Carmarthen and Swansea Metropolitan University, and was presented by Classic FM with the Red f award for outstanding service to classical music.
In 2008 Jenkins' The Armed Man was listed as No. 1 in Classic FM's "Top 10 by living composers".
He was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from the University of Leicester, the Chancellor's Medal from the University of Glamorgan and honorary visiting professorships at Thames Valley University, London College of Music and the ATriUM, Cardiff.
Partial list of works
- Adiemus: Songs of Sanctuary
- Adiemus II: Cantata Mundi
- Adiemus III: Dances of Time
- Adiemus IV: The Eternal Knot
- Adiemus V: Vocalise
- Adiemus Colores - Karadaglic/Villazon/Flores, 2013 Deutsche Grammophon
- Motets - Polyphony / Stephen Layton, 2014 Deutsche Grammophon
an excerpt from the piece.
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Greatest Hits collection
- The Best of Adiemus
- The Very Best of Karl Jenkins, EMI Classics (2011)
- Adiemus: Live — live versions of Adiemus music
- Palladio (1993)
- Eloise (opera)
- Imagined Oceans (1998)
- The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace (composed 1999, premièred 2000)
- Dewi Sant, a work for SATB chorus and orchestra (1999, 30 minutes)
- Diamond Music (1996)
- Merry Christmas to the World (1995) — a collection of traditional Christmas music orchestrated by Jenkins
- Over the Stone (2002) — a double harp concerto
- Crossing the Stone (2003) — an album featuring Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and material from the double harp concerto
- Ave Verum (2004) — for baritone (composed for Bryn Terfel)
- In These Stones Horizons Sing (2004)
- Requiem (2005)
- Quirk (2005) concertante
- River Queen (2005) — score for the film River Queen directed by New Zealand director Vincent Ward
- Tlep (2006)
- Kiri Sings Karl (2006) — with Kiri Te Kanawa
- This Land of Ours (2007) — with Cory Band and Cantorion (aka Only Men Aloud!)
- Stabat Mater (2008) — Jenkins' adaptation of a 13th Century Roman Catholic Poem
- The Concertos (2008) — Over the Stone (a double harp concerto), La Folia (for marimba), Quirk (a concertante for flutes, keyboards, percussion), Sarikiz (a violin concerto), re-recording of the first movement of the Palladio concerto grosso
- Music of the Spheres with Mike Oldfield (2008)
- Stella Natalis (2009)
- Gloria / Te Deum (2010) — with Hayley Westenra
- The Bards of Wales (2011)
- Songs Of The Earth (2012)
- The Peacemakers (2012)
- University of Leicester - Oration for Karl Jenkins by Professor Gordon Campbell
- Press article at www.karljenkins.com
- Carol Barratt at Allmusic
- Out-Bloody-Rageous, Graham Bennett, 2008 (ISBN 0-946719-8-5) page 246
- Out-Bloody-Rageous, Graham Bennett, 2008 (ISBN 0-946719-8-5) page 324
- "SECOND HOUSE: TUBULAR BELLS – MIKE OLDFIELD". Memorable TV. Retrieved 2011-04-24.
- John H. Briggs, Sr.
- "New album coming soon – The Peacemakers" at karljenkins.com
- "Top 10 by living composers 2008". classicfm.co.uk. 2008. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
- The London Gazette: . 12 June 2010.
- CBE for Zeta Jones, knighthood for Harwood
- "About the BDRS". British Double Reed Society. 2009-02-24. Retrieved 2009-02-24.
- Karl Jenkins official website
- Biography at Calyx (Canterbury music website)
- Karl Jenkins on MySpace
- Karl Jenkins biography from BBC Wales
- Karl Jenkins interview
- Karl Jenkins conducts a performance of the Benedictus from 'The Armed Man'.