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Karl Jenkins

 b.17 February 1944, Penclawdd, WalesKarl Jenkins © Eric Richmond/ArenaPAL

Biography


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Karl Jenkins is one of the most performed living composers in the world. The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace alone has been performed nearly 1000 times in 20 different countries since the CD was released while his recorded output has resulted in seventeen gold and platinum disc awards.

He was born in Wales and educated at Gowerton Grammar School before reading music at the University of Wales, Cardiff. He then commenced postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

It was in jazz that he initially made his mark. In those days of ‘Jazz Polls” he was a prolific poll winner, playing at London’s famous Ronnie Scott’s club before co-forming Nucleus, which won first prize at the Montreux jazz festival and appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival, Rhode Island.

This was followed by a period with Soft Machine, one of the seminal bands of the '70s. Through many incarnations, ‘Softs’ defied categorization playing venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall, the classical ‘Proms’ at the Royal Albert Hall, the Reading ‘Rock’ Festival.

In the field of advertising music he has won the prestigious D&AD award for best music [twice], the ‘Creative Circle Gold’ and several ‘Clios’ [New York] and ‘Golden Lions’ [Cannes]. Credits include Levi’s, British Airways, Renault, Volvos, C&G, Tag Heuer, Pepsi as well as US/global campaigns for De Beers and Delta Airlines and Bafta ‘gongs’ for his scores for the documentaries The Celts and Testament.

After this period as a media composer, his return to the music mainstream was initially marked by the success of the Adiemus project. Adiemus, combining the ‘classical’ with ethnic vocal sounds and percussion with an invented language, topped classical and ‘pop’ charts around the world.

His output includes the harp concerto Over The Stone commissioned by HRH the Prince of Wales for the Royal Harpist, Catrin Finch, Euphonium Concerto for David Childs, the concertante Quirk, commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Sir Colin Davies as part of its 2005 centenary season, Tlep written for virtuoso violinist Marat Bisengaliev and based on Kazak themes and In These Stones Horizons Sing, featuring Bryn Terfel, Catrin Finch with the WNO Orchestra & Chorus which was premiered at the Royal Gala opening of the Welsh Millennium Centre in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.

In the summer of 2005 he scored the feature film, River Queen starring Kiefer Sutherland & Samantha Morton, the soundtrack of which won the Golden Goblet award for best score at the Shanghai Film Festival.

Recent CD releases include Requiem, “Kiri Sings Karl” with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, This Land Of Ours with the Cory Band [winners of the 2007 British Open Championship and Only Men Aloud], Stabat  Mater, Quirk, a collection of concertos which includes La Folia, commissioned by Dame Evelyn Glennie, Stella Natalis, a new Christmas work which spent the last four weeks of 2009 at No1 in the British Specialist Classical Chart, and The Peacemakers which similarly reached No1 in 2012 .

In 2004 he entered Classic FM’s ‘Hall of Fame” at No8, the highest position for a living composer and since has consistenly been the highest placed living composer, as well as, in 2006, No4 amongst British composers.

Karl holds a D.Mus [Doctor of Music] degree from the University of Wales, has been made both a Fellow and an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, where a room has been named in his honour, and has fellowships at Cardiff University, Swansea University, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Trinity College Carmarthen, Swansea Metropolitan University and was also presented by Classic FM with the ‘Red f ‘award for ‘outstanding service to classical music’.

He has been the subject of the ITV South Bank Show by Lord [Melvyn] Bragg as well as being a ‘castaway’ on ‘Desert Island Discs’ and was recently made a Freeman of the City of London.

Further awards include an honorary doctorate of music from the University of Leicester, the Chancellors Medal from the University of Glamorgan and two Honorary visiting Professorships, one at Thames Valley University/London College of Music and the other at the ATriUM, Cardiff. In November 2009 he was given the Cymru For The World Award and in March 2010 was honoured with the Hopkins Medal given by the St. David’s Society for the State of New York.

Current plans include, in association with the Worshipful Company of Musicians, the setting up of a foundation to help young players entering the music profession.

He was awarded an OBE, by Her Majesty The Queen, in the 2005 New Year’s Honours List and a CBE in the 2010 Queen's Birthday Honours "for services to music".

June 2012

Short biography:

Karl Jenkins is one of the most performed living composers in the world. Educated at Gowerton Grammar School, Cardiff University and the Royal Academy of Music, London, The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace alone has been performed nearly 1000 times in 20 different countries since the CD was released while his recorded output has resulted in seventeen gold and platinum disc awards.

His style and integrity has transcended musical boundaries encompassing jazz-rock with Soft Machine, the global ‘crossover’ phenomenon Adiemus, soundtracks for Levis and British Airways, while stopping off along the way to score a Kiefer Sutherland movie, be a castaway on BBC “Desert Island Discs”, be featured by Melvyn Bragg on the ITV seminal South Bank Show and be awarded the Freedom of the City of London. Recordings on EMI Classics include Requiem, Stabat Mater, Quirk, Stella Natalis and The Peacemakers whilst he’s composed music for HRH The Prince of Wales, Bryn Terfel, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Evelyn Glennie and the London Symphony Orchestra amongst many others.

A Doctor of Music, he holds Fellowships, Honorary Doctorates and Professorships at five universities or conservatoires, including the Royal Academy of Music, where a room has been named in his honour and in recent years, has consistently been the highest placed living composer in Classic FM’s “Hall of Fame”. In November 2009 he was given the Cymru For The World Award and in March 2010 was honoured with the Hopkins Medal given by the St. David’s Society for the State of New York.

He holds the Classic FM ‘Red f ‘award for ‘outstanding service to classical music’ and was awarded an OBE, by Her Majesty The Queen, in the 2005 New Year’s Honours List and a CBE in the 2010 Queen's Birthday Honours "for services to music".

June 2012

This biography can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with the following credit: Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes

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