It was officially released on Adiemus: Songs of Sanctuary in Jenkins chose South African singer Miriam Stockley as a lead vocalist due to her wide range of intonation and Purley resident Mary Carewe for additional vocals. The London Philharmonic Orchestra also performed. The main idea was to create a modern song using classical forms, such as rondo and ternary. The lyrics themselves have no meaning.
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Sir Karl Jenkins is a composer whose music for choir, soloists and orchestra is among the most popular in the genre by any living composer.
He has 17 gold or platinum disc awards. Sir Karl, 75, lives in London with his wife, Carol Barratt. He has a son, Jody, also a composer, and two grandchildren. A great deal. I came from quite humble beginnings. One grandfather was a Swedish sailor who sailed to Wales and met my grandmother, a cockle picker, and the other grandfather was a Welsh coalminer, so it was a very working-class family.
I grew up in Penclawdd, a small seaside village on the Gower Peninsula. My father was a teacher. My mother died when I was four. We were chapel-goers, with that sense of morality and work ethic to match. My family was hardworking and generous towards other people. We never had a family car and used to use public transport and cycle locally. Money was never discussed, but we lived well within humble means. My father was more keen that I learn how to play the piano than do odd jobs.
He earned a reasonable living as a teacher and would give me pocket money as and when I needed it. I was in a jazz band doing gigs in London when I was I remember playing The Bulls Head in Barnes and getting paid three pounds, 15 shillings and sixpence. I supplemented my income with peripatetic woodwind teaching in schools and then things improved when I started working in a jazz-fusion band, Soft Machine.
There was a period in my mids, just after my wife and I had taken out a mortgage on a flat in Putney, when things were tough. I had started working as a composer, but then I had no work for a few months, which was a worry. We had worked a lot, but not for loads of money. Yes, definitely. I was in business with another ex-Soft Machine member, Mike Ratledge.
We usually got a fee and royalties for the music, and we retained copyright. At one point we were doing two or three ads a week, but the life of each ad only lasted two or three years. I wrote Adiemus for a commercial for Delta Air Lines, and as Delta flew everywhere, it became a global hit. I then developed it into a much bigger symphonic piece of work, released in My life changed when people started singing my work around the world.
Adiemus was a global seller and The Armed Man has now been performed 2, different times since the Millennium. I have the benefit of not having to be there when the music is performed as other people play and conduct it, so I am working as I am sitting at home in my studio.
Assuming you are very, very good at it, I think it is easier as a performer because you can play Bach and Mozart and you are valued at that. It is very difficult to write a memorable piece of music that has longevity.
If I sold everything I had, technically I would be. I suppose getting my first property. A former accountant, who was later struck off, wrongly advised me on a tax matter, which then led to an investigation. That was in the early s. It led to some sleepless nights with worry, but everything was resolved in the end. I do have a personal pension with a reliable firm and, since I am 75, the long-term financial strategy is not relevant.
My main concern is seeing my family are OK, really. I am addicted to work. It is what I do every day and I will carry on doing it until I am ill or kick the bucket.
I might cut down a bit on the hours I work though. Yes, she handles my portfolio of investments. I have always asked for ethical investments and I use a low-risk strategy. I have a pension and I have Isas. I did have a second home in Wales up until five years ago, which we had for 10 years.
Trusting people and taking them at their word and sometimes employing them. I have worked with incompetent people. I keep tabs on everything that goes on now, whereas in the past I did discover some abuse of credit cards and that type of thing.
I hate having coins in my pocket — they are a nuisance, so I usually empty my pockets and go out the next day without any change. The winner gets a financial award, and I write a piece of music for them.
My wife gives to other music charities and animal charities. I do think it is enabling, so it allows you to travel a bit more and stay in better hotels, and have access to cultural activities like opera, which is ridiculously priced in London.
Miserere: Songs of Mercy and Redemption Decca is out now. Visit karljenkins. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future.
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Composer Sir Karl Jenkins: ‘Adiemus, my biggest hit, was written for an airline advert’
Exclusive: watch the new ‘Adiemus’ music video by Sir Karl Jenkins
Karl Jenkins: Adiemus (‘Songs of Sanctuary’)
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