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Celebrated composer Karl Jenkins breaks records today, achieving over 1000 weeks in the UK classical charts with his much-performed work The Armed Man.

RELEASE DATE: Friday 19 May 2023

The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace by celebrated and much-loved composer Karl Jenkins today makes chart history, with its acclaimed recording breaking the 1000th week barrier in the UK Official Albums Chart. Over more than 20 years the oratorio has become a timeless classic as it continues to capture the hearts of listeners and performers around the world. Based on the 15th century French poem, L’homme armé, the work remains a powerful and moving reflection on the horror of war and its consequences.

The world premiere of The Armed Man, commissioned by the Royal Armouries to mark the millennium, took place in the year 2000 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, conducted by Karl Jenkins himself and featuring The National Youth Choir of Great Britain with Julian Lloyd Webber as cello soloist. Since then, it has received close to 3000 performances across the globe (averaging over two per week), including a performance at Lincoln Center in New York on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, again conducted the composer. The studio recording, featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra, along with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, was originally released in September 2001. The work has since featured regularly in the ‘Classic FM Hall of Fame’, having just charted at its highest ever position at No.5. Karl Jenkins becomes the highest-ranking living composer in this year’s poll, with The Armed Man securing its position as one of the nation’s favourite pieces of contemporary classical music.

Sir Karl Jenkins says, “When I wrote The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace in 1999, little did I imagine that in 2023 we would be celebrating 1000 weeks in the UK classical chart and nearly 3000 performances worldwide. I am deeply honoured that it has touched so many people over the years; thank you to The Royal Armouries and Classic FM who commissioned me to write it, and to all those who have performed it and listened to my recording. I’m sad to say there has been no let-up in war and conflict since I dedicated the piece to the victims of Kosovo, but we continue to make music in remembrance of those who have perished and in the hope that humanity can find a way to heal.”

Chief Executive of The Official Charts Company, Martin Talbot, says, “Sir Karl Jenkins deserves the very highest acclaim for reaching this remarkable landmark. One week in any Official Chart is an achievement in itself – 1000 weeks (and still counting) is quite extraordinary, demonstrating a long-term engagement with music fans that any artist, of any genre, would give the world for. Many many congratulations, Sir Karl.”

Sophie Jones, BPI Chief Strategy Officer and Interim CEO, adds: “The BPI congratulates Karl Jenkins and his record label Decca on this truly remarkable achievement. In a streaming-led era, where many thousands of artists and millions of recordings are all competing for attention and success, to be in the charts month in, month out for the best part of two decades – or a 1000 weeks – really is something special. It speaks volumes for Karl’s prodigious talent in being able to make a profound connection with fans through his work and for the enduring appeal of a now iconic piece of music that transcends generations.”

Managing Director of Boosey & Hawkes, Janis Susskind OBE, comments: “We’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Karl as his exclusive publisher since 1995, when the Adiemus series was in full flower. The arrival of The Armed Man four years later marked a significant new direction for Karl. This large-scale Mass for Peace - scored for chorus, orchestra and soloists - made a powerful impact at its Royal Albert Hall premiere and, through the recording, went on to win the hearts of choirs around the world and establish Karl as one of our age’s most popular composers. Warmest congratulations to Karl on this new landmark.”

Tom Lewis and Laura Monks, Co-Presidents of Decca Label Group, say, “We are incredibly proud to have worked with such a creative and adventurous composer who has inspired us from week 1 to week 1000 of this journey, and continues to do so.”

The newest work by Karl Jenkins, One World, is scheduled for international release by Decca Records this summer. A single from the new recording, Sakura, Spring has Come, setting a text written by musician and librettist Carol Barratt, is released this week. This movement represents a time of rebirth and hope, with Sakura – cherry blossom – in bloom symbolising a time of renewal.

> order new single Sakura, Spring has Come and pre-order One World

One World, scored for soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra, deals with a fractured world (populist governments, plagues, climate change, human trafficking, disrespect for basic human rights, terrorism, war) and heralds a vision of a peaceful and egalitarian planet. The hour-long work sets texts from the Bible, the Hindu Gayatri Mantra as well as the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Frances Harper, Kahlil Gibran and Carol Barratt. Decca’s forthcoming premiere recording features the World Orchestra and Choir for Peace conducted by the composer, with baritone Roderick Williams, soprano Lucy Crowe and mezzo Kathryn Rudge as soloists, with choral contributions in two movements by the Stay at Home Choir with a community of over 1000 singers from over 70 countries around the world.

A further new Karl Jenkins release, Tros y Garreg (Over the Stone) is featured on the official Coronation Album, out now on Decca Classics. This arrangement of a Welsh folk song, drawn from the composer’s harp concerto Over the Stone, was performed as part of the music programme preceding the Coronation service of HM King Charles III and Queen Camilla, with the Official Royal Harpist Alis Huws as soloist. The concerto was commissioned by His Majesty when Prince of Wales, and the album was recorded and released by Decca Records on the same day as the Coronation. The composer’s attendance at Westminster Abbey provoked an unexpected social media storm as viewers claimed his trademark moustache and tinted glasses were ‘a disguise’. Karl Jenkins set the record straight with a series of international media interviews including the New York Times and CNN in the US and 7NEWS in Australia.

> order the Coronation Album

Karl Jenkins highlights this summer include the world premiere of a new saxophone concerto, Stravaganza, written for soloist Jess Gillam. The first performance takes place at the Philharmonie in Berlin on 11 June with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero. 2024 brings concerts around the world honouring Karl Jenkins’s 80th birthday, including a UK tour conducted by the composer featuring the UK premiere of music from One World together with The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace.

About Sir Karl Jenkins
Best-known for the global phenomenon Adiemus and his The Armed Man: a Mass for Peace, Sir Karl Jenkins is among the most performed living composers in the world. The Armed Man has had close to 3000 performances worldwide since 2000, with the recording in the UK charts for 20 years.

Resisting categorization, his style and integrity has transcended musical boundaries: jazz with Soft Machine; award-winning ad soundtracks; composing music for HM The King; ‘cast-away’ on Desert Island Discs; joining Melvyn Bragg on his South Bank Show, and 9 million TikTok hits!

Sir Karl’s works continue to progress ideas concerning peace, tolerance and multiculturalism: Requiem, Stabat Mater, Gloria, The Peacemakers. His new oratorio One World will be released on Decca Records in 2023. He has 17 gold and platinum discs. He has composed for many of the great artists of our time including Sir Bryn Terfel, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Dame Evelyn Glennie and Catrin Finch.

In 2015 and again in 2023, he was announced the most popular living composer in Classic FM’s ‘Ultimate Hall of Fame’: “As a composer he recognises no boundaries: musical, commercial, geographical, or cultural. His is a way of thinking and composing that is perfectly in tune with the spirit of the times”.

Along his journey, 2014 saw the inaugural ‘The Arts Club - Sir Karl Jenkins Music Award' to help young musicians; in 2015 he was knighted by HM Queen Elizabeth II and published his memoir, Still with the Music; in 2019 he was sculpted by the Royal Sculptor, Frances Segelman; and come the pandemic, in 2020 the virtual ‘Stay At Home Choir’ with 7000 singers drawn from 73 countries, performed The Armed Man and Adiemus.
> Karl Jenkins at Boosey & Hawkes
> Karl Jenkins website

About Boosey & Hawkes
Boosey & Hawkes, a Concord company, is the world’s leading publisher of contemporary classical music. Its blue-chip catalogue of 20th-century masters includes Bartók, Bernstein, Britten, Copland, Prokofieff, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Strauss and Stravinsky alongside an eminent front list of composers that includes John Adams, Unsuk Chin, Anna Clyne, Brett Dean, Detlev Glanert, Osvaldo Golijov, HK Gruber, Karl Jenkins, Elena Kats-Chernin, Magnus Lindberg, James MacMillan, Steve Reich, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Eric Whitacre.
> www.boosey.com

About Concord Music Publishing
Concord Music Publishing is a global, full-service, independent music publisher offering bespoke creative support from its A&R, Synchronization and Marketing teams and diligent administration by its in-house Copyright, Licensing, Income Tracking and Royalty departments. Based in Nashville with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London and Berlin, Concord Music Publishing owns or administers more than 800,000 copyrighted musical works. Spanning nearly two centuries of song, through a vast array of genres and territories, Concord represents the world’s most celebrated songwriters, composers and lyricists.
> www.concord.com

For press enquiries, contact:
David Allenby
VP Publicity & Marketing, Boosey & Hawkes

Bronte Larsen-Disney
Publicity & Media Associate, Boosey & Hawkes


>  Further information on Work: The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace

Photo: © Carsten Windhorst

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