Neil Jenkins (tenor) has been a professional singer for nearly fifty years. He made his debut in 1967, and sang and recorded with the Deller Consort, under the direction of Alfred Deller, for ten years, whilst establishing himself as an opera singer. In the 1970s he was appointed as an RCM singing professor by Sir David Willcocks, for whom he became a regular soloist with the Bach Choir, especially as the Evangelist in the Bach Passions. He is equally at home as an operatic, oratorio and recital singer and has made over 60 commercial recordings as well as countless broadcasts for the BBC, including every one of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras and Barry Wordsworth. He has recently worked out that he has sung the tenor solos in Bach’s Passions more than 250 times during his career.
Neil has sung with all of Britain’s leading opera companies as well as many European ones, and was associated with Kent Opera, Scottish Opera, WNO and Glyndebourne for many years. His performances in Tippett’s King Priam (conducted by Sir Roger Norrington) and Glyndebourne Festival’s Lulu (conducted by Sir Andrew Davis) are available on video. He joined WNO once again in 2008 for a production of Verdi’s Falstaff (starring Bryn Terfel) which was recorded and televised.
His recordings cover a wide range of styles, including operas with Domingo, Pavarotti, Carreras and Montserrat Caballé; oratorios conducted by Benjamin Britten, Leonard Bernstein, Riccardo Chailly and David Willcocks (the St Matthew Passion with the Bach Choir of London); and solo recordings of Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, and Henze’s Kammermusik 1958 with Berlin orchestras. His very first recital record of Finzi songcycles, from 1972, has recently been reissued. In 2004 Neil was honoured by the Worshipful Company of Musicians with the presentation of the Sir Charles Santley Memorial Award for his musical achievements.
Neil teaches at several international summer schools, including AIMS which he runs with his wife, gives a regular series of Masterclasses and sits on international singing juries. He is President of the Haywards Heath Music Society, Shoreham Oratorio Choir, Basildon Choral Society, Kent Chorus and the Grange Choral Society of Bournemouth, and is Patron of the Goldsmith’s Choral Union.
These days he combines singing with an increasingly important role as a musicologist. Neil has translated and edited all of Bach’s major choral works for the New Novello Choral Edition, and Haydn’s great oratorios The Seasons, The Creation and The Seven Last Words for Barn End Press, which also publishes a further 20 of his editions. The ENO produced his version of Bach’s St John Passion on stage in 2000, and the Bach Choir of London and many other choral societies regularly use his translations of the St Matthew and St John Passions, and the Christmas Oratorio. He translated Offenbach’s grand opera Die Rheinnixen for its British premiere performances in 2009. Neil has written the biography of the Handelian singer and first great English tenor, John Beard, and will be curating an exhibition about the singer at the Handel House this autumn.
For more information about Neil, visit his website.