Karl William Pamp Jenkins, CBE (born 17 February 1944) is a Welsh musician and composer.
Jenkins was born and raised in the Gower village of Penclawdd, in the county of Swansea, south Wales. His father, who was a local schoolteacher, organist, and choirmaster, gave him his initial musical instruction. Karl Jenkins attended Gowerton Grammar School.
Jenkins began his musical career as an oboist in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales. He went on to study music at Cardiff University, and then commenced postgraduate studies in London at the Royal Academy of Music, where he also met his wife and musical collaborator, Carol Barratt. He studied with Alun Hoddinott.
Jenkins holds a doctorate in music from the University of Wales. He has been made both a fellow and an associate of the Royal Academy of Music, and a room has been named in his honour. He also has fellowships at Cardiff University, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Trinity College Carmarthen and Swansea Metropolitan University, and was presented by Classic FM with the Red f award for outstanding service to classical music.
He was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from the University of Leicester, the Chancellor’s Medal from the University of Glamorgan and honorary visiting professorships at Thames Valley University, London College of Music and the ATriUM, Cardiff.
Jenkins was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2005 New Year Honours and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.
Jenkins has recently been appoint Patron of the International Schools Choral Music Society, ISCMS.
Adiemus was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with additional performers and a project choral group conducted by Jenkins. The lead vocalist is Miriam Stockley from South Africa. The music is generally categorised as New Age.
Each Adiemus album is a collection of song-length pieces featuring harmonised vocal melody against an orchestra background. There are no lyrics as such, instead the vocalists sing syllables and ‘words’ invented by Jenkins. However, rather than creating musical interest from patterns of phonemes (as in scat singing, or in numerous classical and crossover compositions), the language of Adiemus is carefully stylised so as not to distract the listener’s attention from the pitch and timbre of the voice. Syllables rarely end in consonants, for example. In this respect it is similar to Japanese and several other languages. The core concept of Adiemus is that the voice should be allowed to function as nothing more than an instrument, an approach that has become something of a trend in recent choral writing (compare, for example Vangelis’s score for the film 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), or “Dogora”, a symphonic suite by French composer Étienne Perruchon). The word Adiemus itself resembles the Latin word ‘adeamus’ meaning ‘let us approach’ (or “let us submit a cause to a referee”). Jenkins has said he was unaware of this. Even more appropriately, perhaps, it also resembles two 1st person plural forms of the Latin verb ‘audire’ (to hear), viz. ‘audiemus’ (we shall hear) and ‘audiamus’ (let us hear) (Wikipedia).