Recently (and memorably) on our TV screens during the Coronation, the composer Sir Karl Jenkins is back in the news, having broken a unique chart record.
Jenkins broke UK chart records by reaching over 1,000 weeks in the UK Official Classical Artist Albums Chart with his work The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace.
The Armed Man was composed by Jenkins in 1999, commissioned by the Royal Armouries to mark the millennium. An oratorio, it is 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. It has now occupied the UK classical charts for more than 20 years.
Jenkins captured the attention of the public with his appearance at the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey. Indeed, his appearance at the event led to some speculation that Karl Jenkins was Meghan Markle in disguise (Prince Harry’s wife having not attended the Coronation) and his image went viral.
The Welsh 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 was at the Coronation because his work ‘Tros y Garreg‘ (‘Over the Stone’, an arrangement of a Welsh folk song drawn from his eponymous harp concerto) was performed as part of the music programme before the Coronation service, withRoyal Harpist Alis Huws as soloist.
The work was commissioned by His Majesty when Prince of Wales, and was included in the Coronation order of service as a recognition of The King’s long-standing relationship and affiliation with Wales. Indeed, the big day also saw the first-ever Welsh-language performance at a Coronation, with Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel performing Paul Mealor‘s ‘Coronation Kyrie’ in his mother tongue.
‘Tros y Garreg’ is now available to listen to on The Official Coronation Album, which was recorded live and released on the same day as the Coronation, and is out now on Decca Records.
Karl Jenkins pic by Carsten Windhorst