Welcome back to “Let’s Meet”, a weekly interview where we get a chance to meet members of The Toronto Consort’s core ensemble and Artistic Associates. This week, we meet Paul Jenkins, a tenor and early keyboardist who has been gigging since age 15!
How long have you been a professional musician?
Since age 15, though I decided to pursue music as a career at age 17.
What enticed you to your instrument/discipline?
Growing up singing in a church choir and learning to play keyboards, it seemed like a good idea at the time, an antidote to drudgery of all kinds.
Why do you love Early Music Rep?
For one, it suits my voice and temperament. I have endless admiration for the composers who left written evidence of their skills, works of art for us to channel and reanimate. The wealth of writing about early music is interesting to explore; there’s such a variety of periods, languages, styles, and theory to learn about. The play of imagination and synthesis I find quite appealing. Some of the most interesting keyboard players at the time I was studying were scholars, such as Peter Williams, Christopher Stembridge, Colin Tilney, with whom I had lessons, and Alan Curtis, whom I heard in recital in Ancona, Italy, at the age of eighteen. This was the first time for me hearing a solo harpsichord recital and it made a lasting impression. Later on I had some valuable mentoring from Christopher Hogwood, another performer remembered as much for his scholarship. One of his suggestions in particular became a lifelong challenge for me, to learn to improvise in the style of any composition I perform.
My summer of organ lessons with Stephen Cleobury in London the previous year gave me much of the impetus I needed to pursue a wide range of repertoire for that instrument before beginning studies at the University of Toronto. Although less of a focus during my student years, singing was never utterly neglected. I preferred small ensembles and Renaissance polyphony in particular. Private vocal coaching helped me to become more secure in the process and provided useful feedback, making singing early music the pleasure it continues to be for me today.
Here’s a recording from several years ago of a Corrette concerto someone uploaded to Youtube: