I like to think I’m a music lover. I like to think I listen to music and give it an honest open-eared moment of "you have my attention”. Some stuff I know I can’t stomach but I won’t demand someone turn it off if I’m in their house or in their car.
But that’s beside the point. Over the last few years (11 or so …) I’ve become a bit of a music lover of one particular composer – Karl Jenkins and I’d like to share a few of my favourites (at least the ones I can find on you tube).
For me, it all began in the year 2000, when the Royal Armouries in Leeds commissioned a composer to write a piece of work looking forward into the new millennium. I was a member of a schools choir of young choristers and we were invited to get involved in a big project that was being run across our city. At the time I thought it was just a concert, similar to the annual Christmas Concerts. But what I didn’t know was how special this project would become, that it had been specially written for the Royal Armouries in our city and we were part of the choirs who performed it on its original tour around the country.
I have fond memories of rehearsing this piece, the stunned silence as this young cellist of one of the Leeds orchestras coaxed this mournful piece out of her instrument during the big rehearsal. All the choristers were so stunned that we forgot to come in, much to the amusement of the conductor who warned us not to do that on the night! And on the big night we were conducted by the composer himself – this tiny white haired figure in black who waved his baton at us and drew beautiful music from us all.
With other choirs I performed parts of The Armed Man: Mass for Peace over the coming years as a “veteran” performer (thrown in the deep end to help other people learn the music quickly) and I began to come across more of Karl Jenkin’s work.
One of my favourites is Adiemus, partly because my older youth choir learnt it and recorded it on the CD we did and because I could play the alto recorder I got to do the flute solo at in the middle of the piece. With that memory, I can’t help but smile whenever I hear this piece.
His most recent premiere tours of his latest works have allowed me to appreciate his work as a member of his audience rather than as a performer. For several birthdays and Christmases my family have bought me tickets to attend one of his concerts. I’ve gone to Liverpool to see Stabat Mater and heard the incredible acoustics of the Anglican Cathedral ring with the heart throbbing sounds of trained sopranos; I travelled to Norwich to catch one of his last performances of Stella Natalis before Christmas; and recently travelled to Manchester to hear his latest works – the Peacemakers – which included some of my favourite pieces being performed in the first half of the concert. I admit, I cried. But it was good tears!
I also discovered a new piece which I fell in love with and hunted down as soon as I got home. I think I’m driving my OH made with listening to it over and over again, but it reminds me of my weekend away and sitting in the Bridgewater Hall soaking in the music.
Other pieces I love are: