Karl Jenkins

Not to be confused with Carl Jenkins (disambiguation).
Sir Karl Jenkins

Jenkins during a conference in
Arco, Trentino, 2016
Background information
Birth name Karl William Pamp Jenkins
Born (1944-02-17) 17 February 1944
Penclawdd, Gower, Wales, United Kingdom
Origin Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom
Genres jazz, rock, classical
Occupation(s) Composer, musician
Instruments Oboe, saxophone, keyboards
Years active 1970–present
Labels Virgin/EMI Records
EMI Classics
Deutsche Grammophon
Associated acts Adiemus, Soft Machine
Website karljenkins.com

Sir Karl William Pamp Jenkins, CBE (born 17 February 1944) is a Welsh musician, and composer of "Adiemus", The Armed Man and his Requiem.

Early life and education

Karl Jenkins was born and raised in Penclawdd, the Gower, Wales. His mother was Swedish and his father was Welsh. Jenkins received his initial musical instruction from his father who was the local schoolteacher, chapel organist and choirmaster. He attended Gowerton Grammar School.[1]

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.[2][3][4]

Career overview

Early career: Graham Collier's group and Nucleus

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.

Soft Machine

In 1972 he joined the Canterbury progressive rock band Soft Machine and co-led their very last performances in 1984. The group played venues including 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. The albums in which Jenkins performed and composed were Six, Seven (1973), Bundles (1975), Softs (1976) and Land of Cockayne (1981). Jenkins composed most of the tracks on Seven and nearly all of the tracks on the subsequent three albums.

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. Although Melody Maker had positively reviewed the Soft Machine of 1973 and 1974, Hugh Hopper, involved with the group since replacing bassist Kevin Ayers in 1968, cited Jenkins's "third rate" musical involvement in his own decision to leave the band,[5] and the band of the late 1970s has been described by band member John Etheridge as wasting its potential.[6]

Other works

In November 1973, Jenkins and Ratledge participated in a live-in-the-studio performance of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells for the BBC.[7] It is available on Oldfield's Elements DVD.

Jenkins has created 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. He composed a 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 arrangements have included advertisements for the Renault Clio.[2]

Karl Jenkins – "Theme from Palladio"
an excerpt from the piece.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

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' 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 16 January 2012. Jenkins conducted from the podium and John H. Briggs, Sr. conducted the Children's Chorus from a seated position. 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[8] Additional concerts in the UK and USA took place later in the year.[9]

Jenkins composed the music for the 2012 BBC Wales series The Story of Wales presented by Huw Edwards.[10]

A work entitled The Healer - A Cantata For St Luke was premiered on 16 October 2014 (7:30 pm) in St Luke's Church, Grayshott, Hampshire, and was recorded and broadcast on Classic FM.[11] The Healer received its US premiere at Carnagie Hall, New York on 19 January 2015. In September 2015, the recording of the premiere of The Healer was released on CD by Warner Classics as part of the 8 disc boxed set Voices.

A compilation CD, Still With The Music, was also released in September 2015, coinciding with the publication of his autobiography of the same name.

On 8 October 2016 Jenkins' choral work "Cantata Memoria: For the children", with a libretto by Mererid Hopwood, commissioned by S4C, premiered at the Wales Millennium Centre. The concert was broadcast the following evening on S4C and was released as an album by Deutsche Grammophon.[12][13]

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 had fellowships at Cardiff University (2005),[14] the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Trinity College Carmarthen, and Swansea Metropolitan University.

In 2008 Jenkins' The Armed Man was listed as No. 1 in Classic FM's "Top 10 by living composers".[15]

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.

Jenkins was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2005 New Year Honours and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.[16][17] In 2015 he was made a Knight Bachelor.[18]

Jenkins is joint president of the British Double Reed Society[19] and Patron of the International Schools Choral Music Society (ISCMS).

Partial list of works


Karl Jenkins – "Adiemus"
an excerpt from the piece.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Greatest hits collections

Other works

With Barry Guy/The London Jazz Composers' Orchestra


  1. C U School of Music. "Alumni: Karl Jenkins". Cardiff University School of Music. Archived from the original on 22 February 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  2. 1 2 "University of Leicester - Oration for Professor Frances Ashcroft by Professor Gordon Campbell".
  3. "Karl Jenkins: Biography". Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  4. Carol Barratt at Allmusic
  5. Soft Machine: Out-Bloody-Rageous, Graham Bennett, 2008 (ISBN 0-946719-84-5) page 246
  6. Soft Machine: Out-Bloody-Rageous, Graham Bennett, 2008 (ISBN 0-946719-84-5) page 324
  7. "SECOND HOUSE: TUBULAR BELLS – MIKE OLDFIELD". Memorable TV. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  8. John H. Briggs, Sr.
  9. "Karl Jenkins - News - Warner releases world-premiere recording of The Healer as part of 'Still With the Music' collection".
  10. "The Story of Wales". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  11. "Grayshott Concerts: WORLD PREMIER of "The Healer - A Cantata for St Luke" by Karl Jenkins". grayshott.com. 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  12. Thomas, Geraint (7 October 2016). "Aberfan: Sir Karl Jenkins' choral memorial to disaster". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  13. "Elin Manahan Thomas and Karl Jenkins perform Aberfan memorial". southwales-eveningpost.co.uk. 8 October 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  14. "Cardiff University: Alumni". Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  15. "Top 10 by living composers 2008". classicfm.co.uk. 2008. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  16. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59446. p. 7. 12 June 2010.
  17. "Channel 4 News - Latest UK & World News - Videos - Special Reports". Channel 4 News.
  18. Metro, 13 June 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2015
  19. "About the BDRS". British Double Reed Society. 24 February 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2009.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Karl Jenkins.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/12/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.