Note per­fect:

When Kather­ine Jenk­ins takes to the stage in Nor­folk this month, it will be an ex­tra spe­cial oc­ca­sion for the Welsh singing star

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - WORDS: Rachel BullerN PHOTO: David Venni

Singer Kather­ine Jenk­ins

As she pre­pares for a se­ries of huge out­door con­certs this sum­mer, it won’t just be set lists, re­hearsals and glam­orous cos­tume changes which will be at the fore­front of Kather­ine Jenk­ins’ mind.

Hav­ing just given birth to her sec­ond child, a baby boy called Xan­der, her plan­ning has taken on a new di­men­sion.

“I think the show at Sennowe Park will prob­a­bly be one of his first con­certs as I will have to bring him along and if I re­mem­ber back to when my daugh­ter was that lit­tle, it is such an emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence hav­ing your child there for the first time. So it will be a very spe­cial show for so many rea­sons.

“Any mum who’s work­ing is al­ways try­ing to jug­gle ev­ery­thing; it takes a lot of for­ward plan­ning,” says Kather­ine, who al­ready has two-year-old daugh­ter Aaliyah with hus­band An­drew Le­vi­tas. “Of course, it changes things, but I think for the bet­ter. I ab­so­lutely love be­ing a mum; it in­spires me and gives me huge en­ergy for ev­ery­thing that I do.”

The show, at Sennowe Park near Fak­en­ham, the Ed­war­dian home of Sir Thomas Cook, will see Kather­ine singing with a full or­ches­tra and she prom­ises lots of sur­prises.

“I love these open air con­certs. They are my ab­so­lute favourite things to do as they are so re­laxed and you can re­ally feel the at­mos­phere when you are per­form­ing.

“I love look­ing out to the au­di­ence, see­ing peo­ple with their pic­nics and a glass of wine, let­ting the mu­sic wash over them. Some­times, I think, wow, I would quite like to be in that au­di­ence in­stead of here on stage,” she says.

“There will be lots of frock changes, lots of ban­ter and if I haven’t got the crowd wav­ing flags and singing along by the end I don’t think I will have done my job prop­erly. Whether it’s your first clas­si­cal con­cert or you are an afi­cionado, there will be some­thing for you to en­joy.”

Born in South Wales, she dis­cov­ered her love for singing after join­ing the lo­cal church choir. “Clas­si­cal mu­sic wasn’t played at all at home when I was growing up. My par­ents were church go­ers and by the age of seven I was singing three times a week in the church choir. I just fell in love with choral mu­sic, the sound of it.

“When I started hav­ing singing lessons, my teacher no­ticed I had cer­tain qual­i­ties in my voice, and I re­mem­ber her in­tro­duc­ing me to a few fa­mous clas­si­cal pieces; one minute I was singing in Ital­ian, then in Ger­man, and I loved the thrill of it.”

At the age of 23, hav­ing grad­u­ated from the Royal Academy of Mu­sic, Kather­ine signed the largest record deal in UK clas­si­cal record­ing his­tory with Univer­sal – did she see the pres­sure as a bur­den?

“Ac­tu­ally no. I re­mem­ber my mum say­ing ‘this doesn’t hap­pen to peo­ple from Neath’, but I just never thought past that first al­bum. I saw it as the most in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity and wasn’t sure I would get another one, so I was driven to make it the ab­so­lute best it could be.”

That first al­bum proved to be just the start. She has since per­formed in iconic venues all over the world along­side some of the big­gest names in clas­si­cal mu­sic. She has played to the troops in Iraq and Afghanista­n, has won nu­mer­ous awards and ac­co­lades and has ap­peared on count­less tele­vi­sion shows.

“Whether it’s your first clas­si­cal con­cert or you are an afi­cionado, there will be some­thing for you to en­joy”

She is of­ten de­scribed as a cross­over star, tak­ing clas­si­cal mu­sic into the main­stream and it is some­thing she is proud to be do­ing. “I don’t come from a back­ground of clas­si­cal mu­sic or of priv­i­lege. Clas­si­cal mu­sic should not be thought of as elit­ist; it should be for ev­ery­body and it up­sets me when I think peo­ple don’t lis­ten to clas­si­cal mu­sic be­cause they be­lieve it is only for those of priv­i­lege. It re­ally isn’t true.”

She has per­formed sev­eral times in the re­gion over the years, from the San­dring­ham Es­tate to Thetford For­est, but it was last sum­mer’s ap­pear­ance at the Lat­i­tude Fes­ti­val, near South­wold which re­ally showed her abil­ity to ap­peal to a broad au­di­ence.

“It was un­be­liev­able. I had never been to Lat­i­tude be­fore and the set­ting on the lake was ab­so­lutely mag­i­cal. I don’t think I have ever shown up for a per­for­mance on a gon­dola be­fore,” she laughs.

“What I loved most though was that so many peo­ple ac­tu­ally chose to come and see me when there are just so many dif­fer­ent stages to choose from. It was a stand-out mem­ory of the sum­mer.”

Kather­ine Jenk­ins, July 28 at Sennowe Park, near Fak­en­ham. Tick­ets 01603 310999 or out­side­

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