Britain’s most popular contemporary composer, Gower-born-and-bred Sir Karl Jenkins, has spoken of how Swansea nurtured his musical awakening, as he threw his weight behind the UK City of Culture 2021 bid.
Sir Karl, who composed some of the most recognised works in the modern classical canon, including the Adiemus, The Armed Man, and Requiem, began his musical education in Penclawdd under the tutelage of his father, who was the local church organist. Sir Karl went on to find fame, first with prog rock act Soft Machine, then as a classical composer.
He said: “Swansea, City of Culture. It has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? This is a fantastic area. I came through the system, as it were, in Swansea – learning an instrument here and playing in youth orchestras, before going to university and then the Royal Academy of Music, and on into the wider world. It is an amazing area. Perhaps Wales’ greatest poet, and one of the great poets of the world, Dylan Thomas, was from Swansea, actors and actresses abound, including Catherine Zeta Jones. In the wider catchment area one could include Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins, Michael Sheen – the list is endless.
“It’s a rich seam, but perhaps Swansea has suffered from being Wales’ second city, so Cardiff has the symphony orchestra and the National Opera House but we have an amazing jazz festival, probably the best in Britain, and Swansea Jazzland should be cherished. So there is a lot going on here that can be improved on and that can be made bigger and better and greater.”
This post is also available in: Welsh