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Neil Jenkins (Tenor)

Born: April 9, 1945 - St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, England

The English tenor, Neil Jenkins, received his musical education at Westminster Abbey and at King’s College, Cambridge in England. He then went to the Royal College of Music, where Gerald Moore awarded him the Lieder Prize. In 1967 he made his debut, and since then has appeared in concerts throughout Great Britain, performing with the major orchestras and choral societies.

Neil Jenkins is well known as an internationally acclaimed tenor. He has toured Europe extensively, both as a member of the Deller Consort and as tenor soloist at the Liege, Paris, Holland, Madrid, Albi and Israel festivals. He also spent nine months as guest soloist with the Israel Chamber Ensemble. In 1971 he sang in performances of J.S. Bach’s Weihnachts-Oratorium (BWV 248) at the Original Abu-Gosh Music Festival in Israel under the baton of Sigi Stadermann. Since 1971 he has toured USA, performing in the major music centres, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and Iceland.

In the 1970's he formed the Kensington Consort, a small professional choir, which performed at the South Bank and at festivals throughout the UK. At the beginning of the 1990's he began his association with the music publisher Kevin Mayhew which led to him conducting his own choir, the Neil Jenkins Chorale, in five commercial recordings of standard choral repertoire. In 1995 he took over as Conductor of the Brighton Chamber Choir, and, between 1995 and 2001 conducted them on some 60 occasions, both at the Brighton Festival, and at their regular appearances around Sussex. Under his direction the choir appeared "live" on Classic FM, recorded two CDs and cassttes, and gave the first performances of some of his new editions.

In his capacity as a music editor Neil Jenkins has edited song albums for Oxford University Press, several choral albums for Kevin Mayhew Ltd. including the Carol Singer's Handbook, and all of Bach's major choral works for the New Novello Choral Edition. Neil sits on various music committees, and held the post of Warden of the Incorporated Society of Musicians in 1998-1999.

In the field of opera, Neil Jenkins has joined the English Music Theatre Company, playing many of the lead roles. He also has appeared at Camden Festival, with the Kent Opera, and the Welsh National Opera. During his career he has sung a wide variety of operatic roles, appearing regularly with the English National Opera (E.N.O), Opera North, Scottish Opera and the Welsh National Opera (W.N.O). A regular performer at Glyndebourne, he has sung major roles in Benjamin Britten's Owen Wingrave and Janacek's The Makropulos Case; and appeared with them in their outstanding productions (recorded on video) of Alban Berg's Lulu and Knussen's Higglety Pipplety Pop.

For 20 years he was a principal Tenor with Kent Opera, singing Achilles in the famous King Priam production by Nicholas Hytner which is still available on video. At the 1976 Aldeburgh Festival he created the role of Inkslinger in B. Britten's Musical Paul Bunyan, under the supervision of the composer himself. He recently returned there for performances of Peter Grimes with the E.N.O. He has also recently starred in the W.N.O. productions of Monteverdi’s Poppea (shown on TV), Peter Grimes, The Carmelites, Der Rosenkavalier, and The Queen of Spades.

One of Neil Jenkins' greatest achievements has been the translation of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), St. John Passion (BWV 245) and Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) for the New Novello Choral Edition. His painstaking translation directly from the digitised originals has been held in wide critical acclaim across the musical community. The E.N.O. staged his translation of the St. John Passion (BWV 245) at the London Coliseum, Easter 2000 and 2002. Other new editions of Neil’s which have been recently published are Schutz’s The Christmas Story and the Bach Magnificat (BWV 243).

In 2002, Neil Jenkins sang with Glyndebourne Festival in their debut season in New York. He was with them again during the summer in Janacek's The Makropulos Case. He also sang at the Paris and Chicago Opera Houses in operas by B. Britten. In 2002 he also performed the B. Britten Serenade five times with the Berliner Symphoniker and he visited the Netherlands Opera with The Makropulos Case. In 2003 he sang with the Israel Opera in Tel Aviv, and took part in stagings of Strauss' Salome (conducted by Richard Hickox) and Previn's A Streetcar named Desire (conducted by the composer) with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican. In 2004 he visited Paris Opera for further performances of Graham Vick's staging of Peter Grimes, repeating his role of the Rector later in the year in Santiago, Chile. In July 2004 he made his debut with the Deutsche Oper of Berlin in Janacek's The Makropulos Case.

Neil Jenkins has recorded many Renaissance and Baroque works, two of which have been awarded the Grand Prix du Disque. He has recorded under such eminent batons as those of Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Neville Marriner, Charles Mackerras, Riccardo Chailly, Kent Nagano, Colin Davis, Bernard Haitink, Roger Norrington, John Eliot Gardiner and Richard Hickox. He is also known for his performances of contemporary music, where he has been directed by Simon Rattle, Henze, Atherton, Lutoslawski, Philippe Herreweghe, Knussen, Pierre Boulez and Previn.

Neil Jenkins is President of Haywards Heath Music Club and the Grange Choral Society, and Vice-President of the Brighton Competitive Music Festival and the Huntingdon Philharmonic Society. He teaches at several international summer schools, gives a regular series of master-classes, and sits on international singing juries. Since September 2002 he has been the Musical Director of the Sussex Chorus, and persuaded Howard Blake and Sir David Willcocks to become the choir's new President and Vice-President. In April 2004 Neil Jenkins was honoured by the Worshipful Company of Musicians with the presentation of the Sir Charles Santley Memorial Award.

Source: Programme notes to Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra concert in the Israel Festival (1976); Neil Jenkins Website; Sussex Chorus Website; International Who's Who in Music & International Directory (13th Edition, 1992/93)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2001, June 2005, November 2005)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Richard Hickox


BWV 234

Sigi Stadermann


Excerpts from BWV 248

Paul Steinitz


BWV 131; Selections from BWV 244
G.F. Handel: Brockes Passion, HWV 48 [Radio Broadcast]

David Willcocks


BWV 244

Charles de Wolff


BWV 244

Links to other Sites

Neil Jenkins (Official Website)

Neil Jenkis - musical director and tenor (Sussex Chorus)

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