Stories » The most popular living composer, Karl Jenkins, releases 'Requiem.' A dramatic and powerful work

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The most popular living composer, Karl Jenkins, releases 'Requiem.' A dramatic and powerful work

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Welsh-born Karl Jenkins, who has been called "the most popular living composer", is one of the most successful contemporary British composers, writing music that speaks to audiences across the world. Followingthe huge success of his Adiemus project, which has gone gold in many countries, and The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace, Karl Jenkins has now completed his new piece Requiem, which is being released on EMI Classics.

Requiem is a dramatic and powerful work that takes its inspiration from both Western and Oriental musical traditions. It incorporates Western melodic style and elements of world music, such as Japanese harmonies and melodies, and instruments. It is a Mass set to texts from both the Christian Mass, written in Latin, and Japanese jisei, which are traditional Japanese haiku that highlight the cyclical nature of life, death and rebirth. Karl Jenkins said "It was a moving and rewarding time for me when composing this work, with its blend of traditional Latin text combined with the haiku poems from Japan and a thrill to bring what are seemingly disparate elements together such as a fabulous orchestra from Kazakhstan, the best of Welsh choirs and our brilliant soloists." In some tracks Jenkins combines the two styles, as in Farewell, which is intoned by male voices in a monastic style as a counterpoint to the Japanese text sung by the female voice. Karl Jenkins has said that the Requiem is dedicated to his late father "...who was a musician, friend and inspiration."

Performing the Requiem is the West Kazakh Philharmonic Orchestra and this marks the first ever commercial recording by an orchestra from Kazakhstan. This is a historical milestone for this country and its culture. The director and leader of the orchestra, Marat Bisengaliev said "I feel that with this high profile recording of the first Kazakh orchestra with worldwide distribution represents the new post-soviet, democratic era that our country is entering into, and its achievements both economic and cultural. It shows Kazakhstan as a truly civilized and fast-developing country with enormous potential. This very first recording on EMI will be, no doubt, one of the most popular recordings around the world and will be cherished by millions of citizens of my country for many years to come."

In addition to the Requiem, the disc also includes another new work by Karl Jenkins entitled In these stones, horizons sing. Commissioned for the opening of the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, the work was premiered there, performed by the renowned bass-baritone Bryn Terfel and the award-winning harpist Catrin Finch, both of whom are also from Wales. Their performance was broadcast live on television in the UK in November 2004 and they have joined together again for this, the first recording of the work. Set to the texts of eminent modern Welsh poets, this piece celebrates Welsh culture, by combining folk music elements that depict Welsh tradition, and saxophone improvisations and ethnic percussion that evoke the influence of the rest of the world.