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Karl Jenkins

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Title: Karl Jenkins  
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Subject: Requiem (Karl Jenkins album), Adiemus V: Vocalise, Imagined Oceans, Six (Soft Machine album), Mike Ratledge
Collection: 1944 Births, 20Th-Century Classical Composers, 21St-Century Classical Composers, Academics of the University of Glamorgan, Alumni of Cardiff University, Alumni of the Royal Academy of Music, Ambient Musicians, British Classical Composers, British Jazz Musicians, British Oboists, Canterbury Scene, Caroline Records Artists, Commanders of the Order of the British Empire, Composers Awarded Knighthoods, Deutsche Grammophon Artists, Karl Jenkins, Knights Bachelor, Living People, Nucleus (Band) Members, People Educated at Gowerton Grammar School, People from Swansea, Soft MacHine Members, Virgin Records Artists, Welsh Classical Composers, Welsh Composers, Welsh Oboists
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Karl Jenkins

Sir Karl Jenkins
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 .comkarljenkins

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


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career overview 2
    • Early career: Graham Collier's group and Nucleus 2.1
    • Soft Machine 2.2
    • Other works 2.3
  • Awards and achievements 3
  • Partial list of works 4
    • Albums 4.1
    • Greatest Hits collection 4.2
    • Other works 4.3
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and education

Karl Jenkins was born and raised in 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 defied categorisation and played venues as diverse as 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).

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. Balanced against Melody Maker's positive view of the Soft Machine of 1973 and 1974, Hugh Hopper, involved with the group since replacing bassist Kevin Ayers in 1968, cites 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 a good deal of 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. Perhaps his most-heard piece of music is the 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 notable arrangements have included the "Papa? Nicole?" advertisements for the Renault Clio.[2]

an excerpt from the piece.

Problems playing this file? See .

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

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.[10] The Healer received its US premiere at Carnagie Hall, New York in 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.

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, 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".[11]

He was awarded an professorships at Thames Valley University, London College of Music and the ATriUM, Cardiff.

Jenkins was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2005 New Year Honours and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.[12][13] In 2015 he was made a Knight Bachelor.[14]

Jenkins is joint president of the British Double Reed Society[15] and Patron of the International Schools Choral Music Society (ISCMS).

Partial list of works


an excerpt from the piece.

Problems playing this file? See .

Greatest Hits collection

  • The Best of Adiemus
  • The Very Best of Karl Jenkins, EMI Classics (2011)
  • Voices, Warner Classics (2015). An 8 Disc collection including the World Premiere of The Healer - A Cantata for St Luke

Other works

  • Adiemus: Live — live versions of Adiemus music
  • Palladio (1995)
  • Eloise (opera)
  • Imagined Oceans (1998)
  • The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace (composed 1999, premièred 2000)
  • Dewi Sant, a work for SATB chorus and orchestra (1999, 30 minutes)
  • Diamond Music (1996)
  • Merry Christmas to the World (1995) – a collection of traditional Christmas music orchestrated by Jenkins
  • Over the Stone (2002) – a double harp concerto
  • Crossing the Stone (2003) – an album featuring Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and material from the double harp concerto
  • Ave Verum (2004) – for baritone (composed for Bryn Terfel)
  • In These Stones Horizons Sing (2004)
  • Requiem (2005)
  • Quirk (2005) concertante
  • River Queen (2005) – score for the film River Queen directed by New Zealand director Vincent Ward
  • Tlep (2006)
  • Kiri Sings Karl (2006) – with Kiri Te Kanawa
  • This Land of Ours (2007) – with Cory Band and Cantorion (aka Only Men Aloud!)
  • Stabat Mater (2008) – Jenkins' adaptation of a 13th Century Roman Catholic Poem
  • The Concertos (2008) – Over the Stone (a double harp concerto), La Folia (for marimba), Quirk (a concertante for flutes, keyboards, percussion), Sarikiz (a violin concerto), re-recording of the first movement of the Palladio concerto grosso
  • Music of the Spheres with Mike Oldfield (2008)
  • Te Deum (2008)
  • Stella Natalis (2009)
  • Gloria (2010) – with Hayley Westenra
  • The Bards of Wales (2011)
  • Songs of the Earth (2012)
  • The Peacemakers (2012)
  • The Healer - A Cantata for St Luke (2015)


  1. ^ C U School of Music. "Alumni: Karl Jenkins". Cardiff University School of Music. Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b University of Leicester – Oration for Karl Jenkins by Professor Gordon Campbell
  3. ^ Press article at
  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. ^ a b John H. Briggs, Sr.
  9. ^ "New album coming soon – The Peacemakers" at
  10. ^ "Grayshott Concerts: WORLD PREMIER of "The Healer - A Cantata for St Luke" by Karl Jenkins". 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  11. ^ "Top 10 by living composers 2008". 2008. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59446. p. 7. 12 June 2010.
  13. ^ CBE for Zeta Jones, knighthood for Harwood
  14. ^ Metro, 13 June 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2015
  15. ^ "About the BDRS". British Double Reed Society. 24 February 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2009. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Biography at Calyx (Canterbury music website)
  • Karl Jenkins on MySpace
  • Karl Jenkins biography from BBC Wales
  • Karl Jenkins interview
  • Karl Jenkins conducts a performance of the Benedictus from 'The Armed Man'.
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