Given the influences on Jeremy Jackman’s musical life to date, he was always unlikely to be a specialist. As a choirboy, first under Barry Rose at his local church, then at St Paul’s Cathedral, it was all Byrd, Howells and Anglican psalm singing. At home, it was more jazz and pop, with the sounds of his father (a professional clarinettist) warming up to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and his older brother playing keyboard in a 60s pop group. Jeremy continued to broaden and deepen his musical experience firstly at the Royal College of Music and later at university where his studies included composition and conducting. University also provided opportunities to perform as a solo singer and, for the first time, to conduct an orchestra.
As a freelance singer, Jeremy Jackman addressed an ever wider range of classical vocal music, performing throughout Eastern and Western Europe as a soloist, and with ensembles including the BBC Northern Singers, the Tallis Scholars and the Alfred Deller Choir. Plainsong and Palestrina were uppermost during his time as Lay Clerk at Westminster Cathedral under the direction of Stephen Cleobury. In 1980 he successfully auditioned for the one vocal group in which all these influences could find expression—The King’s Singers. For a decade he toured the world, singing in some of the most prestigious concert halls and making countless broadcasts and recordings. During this time, he kept alive other musical ventures including conducting performances of Purcell’s Fairy Queen and his own translation of the Bach St Matthew Passion.
There comes a moment in many performers’ lives when they feel that it is time to move from being a cog in the machine to driving the engine: for Jeremy Jackman, February 1990 was that moment. On leaving The King’s Singers, he began a long association with Canford Summer School and became Chorus Master of the London Philharmonic Choir and the Belfast ‘Phil’. He is now Musical Director of the English Baroque Choir, Chorus Master of OSJ Voices and conducts and conducts the Cecilian Singers, a Leicester-based chamber choir. Jeremy has conducted at major concert venues across Britain and around the globe and is frequently invited to give workshops and masterclasses with established choirs. Children as well as adults benefit from his infectious enthusiasm and lively approach: in 2009 he may well have broken the world record for conducting several zoo’s-worth of children in a mass performance of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde at Alexandra Palace!
Other curiosities include conducting Mussorgsky’s Night on a bare mountain with full symphony orchestra on a beach in Jamaica and performing Christmas music on horseback beside a lake in Yorkshire wearing a monk’s habit on a very cold November morning. Royalty cheques occasionally land on Jeremy’s mat in recognition of his services as the singer in the theme music for the Elizabethan series of ‘Blackadder’.