Karl Jenkins "This Land of Ours" album features Cory Band & Cantorion (aka Only Men Aloud - winners of BBC's Last Choir Standing 2008).
Karl Jenkins on This Land of Ours:
The idea came to me earlier in the year to record an album that reflected two important facets of traditional Welsh “popular" culture, the male voice choir and the brass band, brought together for the first time on a major record release.
Male voice choirs and brass bands have been synonymous with our country since the industrial revolution and although this is true of many mining communities, particularly in the north of England, the male choir has a particular resonance in Wales. It was clear that I had to employ the best possible practitioners in these disciplines to make this project memorable and the choice of both band and choir was easy. It was crucial to have a choir that, while retaining the raw emotion of the traditional Welsh male choir, also possessed superb musicianship and reading ability, in the musical sense, which enabled me to explore more adventurous harmonies and sounds than is perhaps the norm within this genre, with the choral harmonies sometimes consisting of as many as eight separate parts when often two, or even one, is the norm.
I’ve known Tim Rhys Evans [and his two choirs, the mixed choir Serendipity and Only Men Aloud, his male voice choir] for a few years. Tim is a brilliant choral director and trainer and indeed undertook that role on my Requiem recording. His male choir has now metamorphosed into Cantorion. Comprising young, vibrant voices with the aforementioned skills although only sixteen in number, they produce an enormous sound, made even bigger by a particular recording technique of mine that shall remain secret! I can say no more about the Cory band than that they are simply the best in the world, an extravagant claim maybe, but endorsed by the fact that soon after this recording was made in September 2007, they went on to win, under their musical director Dr. Robert Childs, the British Open Championship, ahead of such luminaries as the Black Dyke Mills & Grimethorpe Colliery bands. At this point in time, they are officially ranked No 1 in the world! On a personal level I first met the band through David Childs [Robert’s son] the great euphonium virtuoso [former winner of the BBC Young Musician Brass Finals] who plays all the euphonium solos here, even performing a duet with himself on Flower Duet.
Other pieces include classical favourites, Welsh folk songs and hymns and some well known pieces of mine while others, although not intrinsically Welsh, are favourites in the Principality. Two of the pieces have new text, in Welsh, by the outstanding Welsh poet Grahame Davies. These are reworkings of the Largo from Dvorak’s “New World Symphony" as Cysgu Di [Go To Sleep] and of my Adiemus Cantilena:Ysbrid Y Mynyddoedd [Spirit of the Mountains] that was the soundtrack to the C&G ‘Diver’ commercial.