Orchestra expertly pranks Sir Karl Jenkins with surprise ‘Happy Birthday’ at Royal Albert Hall

10 May 2024, 17:38 | Updated: 10 May 2024, 18:08

Orchestra pranks Karl Jenkins with surprise ‘Happy Birthday’! | Classic FM Live

By Siena Linton

The Welsh composer thought he was conducting his ‘Palladio’ at Classic FM Live, but the orchestra had other plans...

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When Sir Karl Jenkins stepped onto the podium at the Royal Albert Hall, he thought he was about to conduct the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in a performance of his 1995 piece, ‘Palladio’, at Classic FM Live.

But, as it turned out, the orchestra had something entirely different in mind. After playing the opening few bars as expected, the musicians smoothly segued into a symphonic rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, joined in fine voice by the RSNO Chorus and taking the conductor completely by surprise.

Erupting in applause, the 5,000-strong audience cheered for the Welsh maestro as Classic FM presenters and hosts of the evening’s concert, Alexander Armstrong and Myleene Klass, entered the stage with two sumptuous cakes on a platter.

“Happy birthday, Sir Karl – surprise!” Myleene announced. “We’re going to go and cut this cake, and you’re gonna get on with the concert!”

“Oh, I’ve got to start it again now!” Jenkins quipped.

“Yes, but we can’t get enough of you,” responded Myleene.

Read more: Classic FM Live with Viking: relive our spectacular Royal Albert Hall concert in pictures

Sir Karl Jenkins on ‘Adiemus’, his jazz roots, and still writing music at age 80

The wonderful arrangement was made by the orchestra’s conductor for the rest of the night, Ben Palmer.

Karl Jenkins was at the Royal Albert Hall for Classic FM Live with Viking, where he conducted his ‘Benedictus’ from The Armed Man, ‘Palladio’, and ‘Adiemus’ as part of his 80th birthday celebrations in 2024.

Just a month before, the multi-faceted musician had conducted the 3,000th performance of The Armed Man on the very same prestigious stage, and also marked his eighth decade in an exclusive interview with Classic FM’s John Humphrys, where he admitted that his hit piece ‘Adiemus’ had been “a rush job”.

Many happy returns to a talented tune-smith and Welsh icon!

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