KARL JENKINS MAKES CHART HISTORY BY REACHING
1000WEEKS IN THE CLASSICAL CHARTS
NEW SINGLE: ‘SAKURA, SPRING HAS COME’ RELEASED TODAY, AVAILABLE HERE
London, 19th May 2023 – One of Britain’s most celebrated and performed, and now most recognisable, living composers, Sir Karl Jenkins, today breaks chart records by reaching over 1000 weeks in the UK Official Classical Artist Albums Chart with his epic and moving work ‘The Armed Man’.
Having captured the attention of the general public with his appearance at the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III & Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey last week, Sir Karl’s image went viral. The composer was amused by the extraordinary media response to his distinctive look, when it was jokingly suggested that he might have been a heavily disguised Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. He commented that he has had a moustache since the age of 18, but is pleased that people are now buying him drinks in pubs on the strength of it!
His work Tros Y Garreg, an arrangement of a Welsh folk song drawn from his harp concerto Over the Stone, was performed as part of the music programme preceding the Coronation service, with the Official Royal Harpist Alis Huws as soloist. The work was commissioned by His Majesty when Prince of Wales, and its inclusion was in recognition of The King’s long standing and deeply held relationship and affiliation with Wales. Tros Y Garreg is now available to listen to on The Official Coronation Album, which was recorded live and released in record-breaking time on the same day as the Coronation, and is out now on Decca Records.
This week it is his popular work ‘The Armed Man’ – composed by Sir Karl in 1999, commissioned by the Royal Armouries to mark the millennium – that takes centre stage as it appears in the UK Official Classical Artist Albums Chart for the 1000th week. Also known as the ‘Mass for Peace’, it is an oratorio based on the 15th century French poem, ‘L’homme armé’, and is a powerful and moving reflection on the horror of war and its consequences. Over 20 years later it has become a timeless classic as it continues to capture the hearts of listeners around the world.
The world premiere of ‘The Armed Man’ took place in the year 2000 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, conducted by Sir Karl himself, and featured The National Youth Choir of Great Britain with Julian Lloyd Webber as the cello soloist. Since then, it has received close to 3000 performances across the globe (averaging over two per week), including a performance at Lincoln Center in New York on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, again conducted by Sir Karl. The studio recording, featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra, along with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, was originally released in September 2001. The work has since featured regularly in the ‘Classic FM Hall of Fame’, having just charted at its highest ever position at No.5. Karl Jenkins becomes the highest-ranking living composer in this year’s poll, with ‘The Armed Man’ cementing its position as one of the nation’s favourite pieces of contemporary classical music.
Sir Karl Jenkins says, “When I wrote The Armed Man: a Mass for Peace in 1999, little did I imagine that in 2023 we would be celebrating 1000 weeks in the UK classical chart and nearly 3000 performances worldwide. I am deeply honoured that it has touched so many people over the years; thank you to The Royal Armouries and Classic FM who commissioned me to write it, and to all those who have performed it and listened to my recording. I’m sad to say there has been no let-up in war and conflict since I dedicated the piece to the victims of Kosovo, but we continue to make music in remembrance of those who have perished and in the hope that humanity can find a way to heal.”
Chief Executive of The Official Charts Company, Martin Talbot, says, “Sir Karl Jenkins deserves the very highest acclaim for reaching this remarkable landmark. One week in any Official Chart is an achievement in itself – 1000 weeks (and still counting) is quite extraordinary, demonstrating a long-term engagement with music fans that any artist, of any genre, would give the world for. Many many congratulations, Sir Karl.”
Sophie Jones, BPI Chief Strategy Officer and Interim CEO, adds:“The BPI congratulates Karl Jenkins and his record label Decca on this truly remarkable achievement. In a streaming-led era, where many thousands of artists and millions of recordings are all competing for attention and success, to be in the charts month in, month out for the best part of two decades – or a 1000 weeks – really is something special. It speaks volumes for Karl’s prodigious talent in being able to make a profound connection with fans through his work and for the enduring appeal of a now iconic piece of music that transcends generations.”
Managing Director of Boosey & Hawkes, Janis Susskind OBE, comments: “We’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Karl as his exclusive publisher since 1995, when the Adiemus series was in full flower. The arrival of The Armed Man four years later marked a significant new direction for Karl. This large-scale Mass for Peace – scored for chorus, orchestra and soloists – made a powerful impact at its Royal Albert Hall premiere and, through the recording, went on to win the hearts of choirs around the world and establish Karl as one of our age’s most popular composers. Warmest congratulations to Karl on this new landmark.”
Tom Lewis and Laura Monks, Co-Presidents of Decca Label Group, say, “We are incredibly proud to have worked with such a creative and adventurous composer who has inspired us from week 1 to week 1000 of this journey, and continues to do so.”
On Friday 19th May Sir Karl releases the first single from forthcoming new work, ‘One World’, commissioned by the World Choir for Peace. Entitled ‘Sakura, Spring has Come’, this movement represents a time of rebirth and hope. Sakura – cherry blossom – in bloom symbolises a time of renewal. The text is written by musician and librettist Carol Barratt.
‘One World’ deals with a fractured world (populist governments, plagues, climate change, human trafficking, disrespect for basic human rights, terrorism, war) and heralds a vision of a peaceful and egalitarian planet. Here, the World Choir for Peace is joined by the World Orchestra for Peace and the Stay At Home Choir and uses texts from the Bible, the Hindu Gayatri Mantra as well as the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Frances Harper, Kahlil Gibran and Carol Barratt. ‘One World’ also features the voice of Sir Karl Jenkins himself, as he chants on the track ‘Savitur’, meaning ‘the inner sun’. Consisting of a group of words that are repeated as an aid to meditation, it was originally meant as a guide track only, but people liked it so much (without knowing who it was), it stayed, and is the first time ever the composer’s vocals have been used on a recording.
The new work is, perhaps, best encapsulated by one of the texts: ‘Tikkun Olam’, Hebrew for ‘repair the world’.
SIR KARL JENKINS’ TROS Y GARREG (OVER THE STONE) IS FEATURED ON THE OFFICIAL CORONATION ALBUM
OUT NOW ON DECCA CLASSICS
WITH FIRST SINGLE ‘SAKURA, SPRING HAS COME’ OUT 19TH MAY ON DECCA RECORDS
NEW ALBUM ‘ONE WORLD’ IS RELEASED THIS SUMMER