Jan 25, 2017
How Made in Hull inspired top composer Sir Karl Jenkins

Sir Karl Jenkins, acclaimed as the world's most popular living composer, has revealed the inspiration behind his world premiere commission for Hull Philharmonic Orchestra.

Presented with support from Hull UK City of Culture 2017, 6000 Pipes celebrates the City Hall and its mighty locally-built organ, and will be performed on February 25 as part of the Made in Hull season. 

The old Tivoli Theatre, Hull's fishing industry and a modern day wildlife issues have influenced Sir Karl's piece for organ and orchestra after he visited the city last summer.

The Tivoli, home to the leading music hall artistes of the day, was built in Paragon Street, Hull, in 1871 to a design similar to the Globe Theatre in London, with a 1,200 capacity. Originally known as the Theatre Royal, it became the Tivoli in 1912, but was demolished after closing down in the 1950s. The site is marked where Tivoli House stands today.

The Hull Philharmonic is linked to the theatre through its principal oboist, Gerald Bisby, whose grandfather moved to the city after landing a job with the Tivoli orchestra.

Unusually, 6000 Pipes will also feature the Hull Philharmonic musicians as singers in a 'Humber Shanty' in honour of the city's trawlermen while the inspiration for another movement is the rare bee orchid growing on undeveloped sites in the city, but under threat from new construction.

Hull Philharmonic Society has financed the commission with support from Hull 2017 and insurance money after the loss of its music library in the Christmas 2013 tidal surge. Williamsons Solicitors of Hull and East Yorkshire are sponsoring the printed programme.

"We decided not to replace the old music, but to create something new for 2017, so some good has come out of adversity," said musical director Andrew Penny.

Mr Penny added that it was a major coup for the orchestra to attract a composer of Sir Karl's stature.

Hull City Hall was in full use by 1909 but as seen in the spectacular start to the culture year it was badly bombed in 1941. The roof, stage area and the organ had to be restored.

The organ was originally built by Forster & Andrews, a successful Hull business that gained commissions in Africa, Central America and Australia, as well as the UK, in the period 1843-1924. 

Swansea-born Sir Karl, who is in Classic FM's Ultimate Hall of Fame, is well known for his mass for peace the Armed Man, his songs for sanctuary Adiemus, film and TV scores and his recent work in memory of the Aberfan disaster in 1966.

His early career was spent in jazz and progressive rock as a multi-instrumentalist and his knighthood in 2015 was for 'services to music and crossing musical genres'.

Organist Jonathan Scott, who has performed at major concert halls in the UK, Europe, South America and the Far East, will feature in 6000 Pipes, and the programme also includes Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony and Ravel's Piano Concerto in G with soloist Martin Roscoe.

Martin Green, CEO and Director Hull 2017, said: "Made in Hull is about celebrating this great city, so it is wonderful to have the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra performing Karl Jenkins' especially composed tribute to some of its people, traditions and stories. This world premiere adds to a richly varied line-up of music for Hull's city of culture year." 

Advance bookings - Tickets can be purchased from Hull City Hall box office on 01482 300300, or online at hullcc.gov.uk. Tickets start from £8 (discounts available). Andrew Penny talks to Sir Karl Jenkins, Martin Roscoe and Jonathan Scott at 6:30pm before the concert (free to ticket holders).