Dr. Karl Jenkins CBE OBE B.Mus., F.R.A.M., A.R.A.M., L.R.A.M., F.R.W.C.M.D. F.T.C.C.
Being a composer is rewarding because you interact with people and bring comfort to them sometimes. I get to travel and work with good musicians and singers.
Karl Jenkins, 2012
A recent exhaustive survey shows that Karl Jenkins is now the most performed living composer 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.
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 70’s. Through many incarnations, ‘Softs’ defied categorisation, playing venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall, the ‘Proms’, the Reading ‘Rock’ Festival.
In the field of advertising music he has twice won the prestigious ‘Design & Art Direction’ award for best music, 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 In These Stones Horizons Sing, featuring Bryn Terfel, Catrin Finch with the WNO Orchestra and 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 [world brass band champions], Stabat Mater, Quirk, a collection of concertos which includes La Folia, commissioned by Dame Evelyn Glennie, Stella Natalis and Gloria, premiered by a chorus of 2,500 at the Royal Albert Hall in July 2010.
In 2004 he entered Classic FM’s ‘Hall of Fame” at no 8., the highest position for a living composer and has since been the highest placed living composer, as well as, in 2006, no. 4 amongst British composers.
Karl holds a 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 Birthday Honours List for services to music.