Karl Jenkins: choral singing returns with UK tour
The Armed Man is the headline work on Karl Jenkins’s tour of the UK in March and April, visiting Cardiff, London, Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham, celebrating the return of large-scale choral singing post-pandemic.
Singing in large choirs was one of the serious casualties of COVID lockdown and the welcome return of symphonic choral repertoire is celebrated by Karl Jenkins with a major UK tour visiting five cities in March and April. The tour was originally planned for 2020, rescheduled again in 2021, and now in 2022 sees Karl Jenkins conducting performers including the London Concert Orchestra, Manchester Concert Orchestra, Crouch End Festival Chorus, Cor Caerdydd, Canzonetta and Manchester Chorale.
The tour programme features a selection of Jenkins’s most popular works including music from Symphonic Adiemus, Requiem and the Stabat Mater plus a complete performance of The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. Concerts are at St David’s Hall in Cardiff (13 March), Royal Festival Hall in London (18 March), Symphony Hall in Birmingham (20 March), Bridgewater Hall in Manchester (16 April) and Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham (26 April).
Many choral singers took part in lockdown projects, led in scope and span by the Stay at Home Choir’s ‘Global Armed Man’. This 10-week project in 2020 included virtual choir video recordings and a mass home singalong of over 5000 voices from more than 70 countries hosted by Classic FM, singing music from The Armed Man accompanied by live orchestral footage from the World Orchestra for Peace. The resumption of choral societies and symphonic choruses featuring Jenkins repertoire is gathering momentum in 2022 in the UK and beyond, including The Armed Man in Germany, France, Luxembourg, Hungary and Russia and performances of Jenkins’s Requiem in memory of those lost in the pandemic.
Plans are underway for a major international Jenkins event on 21 September 2023, the International Day of Peace. Choirs around the world will perform Karl Jenkins’s The Peacemakers over a 24-hour period. The TimeDate association based in Lucerne in Switzerland is organising the event, as a united international call for peace, and is inviting choirs to participate by presenting a concert performance of The Peacemakers as a relay at 8pm in their own time zone. For further information please visit https://timedate.ch/en/.
The most recent large-scale Jenkins choral work, Miserere: Songs of Mercy and Redemption, was premiered in 2019 and performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, but many planned concert appearances were cancelled due to lockdown. The 50-minute score was inspired by and dedicated to the millions of people devastated and displaced over the last 70 years by war in the Middle East. The work is scored for countertenor, mixed chorus, solo cello, strings, harp and percussion, including instruments indigenous to the Middle East: riq, darbuca, zarband, bendir, mey, and qanun. This instrumentation reflects Jenkins’s hope that the healing and uniting powers of music might help us to find peace. Miserere was released by Decca Records in 2019 with Polyphony conducted by Stephen Layton and performers including Iestyn Davies, the Britten Sinfonia, cellist Abel Selaocoe and former Royal Harpist to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales Catrin Finch.
Karl Jenkins is currently composing a new work for choir and orchestra to be recorded by Decca Records later this year and released in 2023.
> Further information on Work: The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace (full orchestra version)
Photo: Rhys Frampton