Karl Jenkins Songs of Earth premieres Olympiad concert

Karl Jenkins The Music Nation Celebration Concert includes the world premiere of composer Karl Jenkins' new work, Songs of the Earth, inspired by the myths of Ancient Greece

A new work by Swansea-born composer Karl Jenkins is the highlight of a weekend of live music across Wales to mark the 2012 London Olympics.

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales plays Jenkins' Songs of the Earth at St David's Hall, Cardiff, on Sunday, commissioned for Music Nation.

The live music programme, devised and led by the BBC, aims to be a countdown event for the London 2012 Festival.

Events are held in Cardiff, Caernarfon, Llandudno, Newport, Mold, and Cardigan.

Start Quote

Many people cite Karl Jenkins as the most frequently performed living composer in the world - to have him writing for us is very important to us”

End Quote David Hopkins BBC National Orchestra of Wales

The Music Nation's programme is one of the flagship projects for the London 2012 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad.

Its partnerships and musical performances aim to showcase the best of the UK's musical talent.

Collaborations between music-making professionals and communities sees event taking place from Cornwall to the Shetland Isles and Belfast to Birmingham.

In Wales, they begin on Saturday with a taster workshop in St David's Hall for the Javanese instrument the gamelan.

They include the young people's chamber orchestra Sinfonia Cymru taking its Celebration of Strings tour to Galeri Caernarfon and Clwyd Theatr Cymru.

And they culminate with the 15:00 GMT Music Nation Celebration Concert on Sunday with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC National Chorus of Wales, at which Jenkins is one of the conductors.

Front row (from left): Harry Ventham (RWCMD, bassoon player), Sarah Reddin (RWCMD, soprano); back row (from left): David Adams (Leader, Orchestra of Welsh National Opera), Phillippe Schartz (BBCNOW, Principal Trumpet). Photo: David Massey. Music Nation events include Welsh National Opera and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

Rehearsals of the composer's new commission begin on Friday afternoon and include a dress rehearsal on the morning of the concert.

The concert includes the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, National Youth Brass Band and more than 250 young singers from county choirs.

David Hopkins, communications officer for BBC National Orchestra of Wales, said Jenkins had drawn on the mythology of Ancient Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics, as inspiration for much of Songs of the Earth.

"Many people cite Karl Jenkins as the most frequently performed living composer in the world. To have him writing for us is very important to us," he said.


"Everyone is looking forward to the concert, it is great to have such a high-profile composer writing a piece for us."

Chorus director Adrian Partington added his words of praise for the new work by Jenkins.

He said: "There is the violence of Khaos, for example, where the singers are asked to do very athletic vocalisations; there is the playfulness of the dance of the Titans, where the beat changes all the time - making it very exciting rhythmically.

"Then there is the sensational Pit of Tartarus, where the terrors of hell are described vividly with shrieks from the choir and the ominous rhythms from the orchestra.

"It's all written in Jenkins' unique style - exciting beats, grand tunes and thrilling orchestration. It's a piece that will capture everyone's imagination."

The Music Nation Celebration Concert is broadcast live on BBC Radio Three.

Jenkins most recent collaboration with the BBC was composing and conducting the soundtrack for the BBC One Wales television series The Story of Wales, which started this week.

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