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Review: Karl Jenkins’ 70th Birthday Concert at Symphony Hall

 

Welsh composer Karl Jenkins

This was a jaw-dropping concert to me, of personally unknown contemporary music with strong references to many world-wide religions.

A recent survey shows that Karl Jenkins is now the most performed living composer. Be that as it may, as a sceptical classical specialist I was totally won over by moving emotions, inspired by the immense diversity of this truly accessible and ingenious music.

I was genuinely delighted to hear our City of Birmingham Choir giving their all and obviously relishing the many exciting challenges in the music.

A huge range from soft luscious harmonies, to rumbustious exotic rhythms backed by unusual percussion. Here we were treated to countless ethnic instruments.

 Much of the backing was from hand-percussionist Zands Duggan – a star surrounded by huge congas and tom-toms, but with small effects whispering through ( tambourine, cabaca etc.).

Mesmerising foot-tapping repetitions kept five other percussionists constantly busy, including a group clapping scene. Who turns pages when all hands are full?

The Manchester Concert Orchestra was delightfully challenged and busy throughout, with fine soloists shining through: no holds barred, lovely playing.

Karl Jenkins discreetly conducted, creating lots of variety for splendid euphonium soloist David Childs in the dedicated concerto.

And, finally, what a delight to hear soloists contralto Belinda Sykes and mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge – more from them next time, please.

 

 

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