Sunday, February 17, 2019
Karl Jenkins, the great Welsh composer, turns 74 today.
Karl Jenkins was a classically-trained jazz-rock sax player, keyboard player, and oboist, who played in jazz and rock bands, and composed of all kind of music, from classical works to jazz, rock, and soundtracks for advertisements. His most famous and enduring campaign is the De Beers diamond ads from the 1990s, featuring silhouettes and shadows of a man presenting a piece of diamond jewellery to a woman. I remember the first time I heard those ads I was riveted by the music. It’s rare when a TV commercial causes me to stop what I’m doing (which is either scuttling to the loo or to the fridge) and pay attention. I knew it was a modern piece composed to sound classical-ish, but I was fascinated that some of my friends (who didn’t study music) wondered if it was Vivaldi. Pre-internet, there was no way I could easily look up the composer.
Jenkins composed many works based on western religious musical forms, but incorporated aspects from religions around the word. His music has a classical sound with modern touches, and doesn’t sound “crossover”, per se. He was recognized for his contribution to music with an appointment of Officer of the Order of the British Empire, and Commander of the Order of the British Empire; he was also made a Knight Bachelor.
Here is the famous, thirty-second TV commercial that captured the imaginations of many:
Karl William Pamp Kenkins was born February 17, 1944 in Penclawdd, Gower, Wales.