India a country of massive rich musical heritage: Welsh composer Karl Jenkins

September 10 2017

Welsh musician and composer Karl Jenkins, who has composed music for The Prince of Wales, Bryn Terfel and the London Symphony Orchestra among many others, is set to perform in Mumbai at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Symphony Orchestra Autumn Season 2017. He says India has a "massively rich musical heritage" that is remarkably sophisticated as well.


"It's important for me; I love the country, even if I have only been there once before. It is also a country with a massively rich musical heritage that is as remarkably sophisticated as any. As a 'market', it is not that relevant but I love to reach all people everywhere," Jenkins told IANS in an email interview when asked how important is India as a market for artistes like him.


A 2011 global survey showed that Jenkins is the most performed living composer in the world. "The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace", written for the millennium is perhaps his most well-known work.


His style and integrity has transcended musical boundaries encompassing jazz-rock with Soft Machine. His work includes Adiemus, Requiem, Palladio, Stabat Mater, Quirk, The Peacemakers and Motets, many of which attained top status in London.


He has composed music for The Prince of Wales, Sir Bryn Terfel, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Evelyn Glennie and the London Symphony Orchestra, amongst others.


The year 2014 saw the inaugural "The Arts Club - Sir Karl Jenkins Award", established to help young musicians entering the profession. He is the patron of numerous choirs, including the Dutch Jenkins Choir, a 'national choir' in Holland.


He says that there have been "highs and lows in all of my musical periods" but having been a musical tourist, he has learned a huge amount from delving into different cultures.


"I am proud and humbled that so many people perform my music around the globe. However, it doesn't mean I think more highly of myself. As is said, we all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before," Jenkins said.


Asked if he has any inspiration in life, he said: "I like all good music, regardless of genre but it's hard to quantify influences. I love the Austrian-Germanic tradition (from Bach, Mozart, Mahler, Richard Strauss but also Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Steely Dan and Eric Clapton} but it's more techniques that have influenced me, like using percussion as a pulse or running rhythm and using ethnic flutes."


The Autumn 2017 Season of the Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI), that begins from September 13 till September 28 at Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA, will be a treat with a line-up of performances guaranteed to awe the audience. Apart from Karl Jenkins, it will also feature a line-up of performers including Stephen Hough, István Várdai and Dan Zhu. The concerts will be led by renowned conductors Jacek Kaspszyk and SOI resident conductor Evgeny Bushkov.


Talking about his performance, Jenkins said: "I will be performing Alem The Universe (Alem means 'the universe' in Kazakh) commissioned by Marat Bisengaliev and his Almaty Symphony Orchestra for Expo 2017 in (Kazakh capital) Astana.


"The work is a personal reflection of how I perceive the universe, since only 12 people have ever set foot on 'terra firma' in space - the Moon; and then each one, only once. The text is just like Adiemus in that it consists of my invented language (with one exception), using the voice as an instrument and not as a conveyor of a narrative."


(Nivedita can be contacted at nivedita.s@ians.in)

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