Jenks actually began his musical career as a gifted singer, performing choral music at age six. As a youth he participated in a memorable Carnegie Hall performance of the Magnificat, under the world-renowned composer and maestro John Rutter. After switching to guitar as a young man, Jenks would go on to record four widely praised CDs, each supported by extensive touring. Early on, Jenks gave a series of favorably received solo concerts in France, Germany, and Italy. He was then selected to provide the music for a special reception in honor of Portland Mayor Vera Katz, and was the first performer to play at the renovated Elgin Opera House, where, the Elgin Times noted, “he put on a tremendous show.” Before long he had established a strong presence on the festival circuit, with compelling performances at the Colorado Guitar Festival, the Portland Wine and Arts Festival, and the Festival Internacional de Guitarra in the Dominican Republic. The Boulder Colorado Classical Guitar Society, the Newport Performing Arts Center, Cycle Oregon, and the local Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra have all featured Jenks. And by popular demand, he performs regularly in the Portland Classic Guitar Concert Series that he began more than ten years ago.
Over the past year, Jenks has focused much of his performance itinerary on the culturally rich continent of Latin America. He was invited by the Conservatorio Nacional De Musica (in the Dominican Republic) to perform Vivaldi’s Concerto in D Major, and to judge a major classical guitar competition. He also performed in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and several places in Chile, including at the 15th annual Festival Entrecuerdas, an international guitar festival that lasts through the month of October. While in Chile, Jenks traveled the countryside, performing various concerts and teaching a master class.
Jenks is also the founder of Portland Classic Guitar, a teaching studio and guitar shop through which he directs the aforementioned performance series. Now in its eleventh season, the Portland Classic Guitar Concert Series is the only entity of its kind on the West Coast. Among the first featured performers was the renowned guitarist Ana Vidovic, who quickly predicted that Jenks’s series would become “one of the most prestigious in the country”—a promise it has since fulfilled, as recently attested by a leading artist management company. Jenks now presents ten concerts annually—often in tandem with master classes—and has earned a loyal following among professional musicians and casual music lovers alike. Most of these concerts sell out, and no wonder: past performers have included many legends of the guitar, some of who were visiting Portland for the first time. John Williams, David Russell, Eliot Fisk, and the Romeros have all performed for the Portland Classic Guitar Concert Series—the latter drawing a record-breaking audience of 2300. But Jenks is equally supportive of the next generation of legends, presenting the US debuts of such artists as Dimirtris Kotronakis (from Greece), Gerard Abiton (from France), and Ruben Gonzales (from Cuba), as well as some of the best local up-and-coming guitar talent.
In addition to his own performing, and his stewardship of the classical guitar series, Jenks is the brains behind the Portland Classic Guitar’s guitar shop and teaching studio, which since 2001 has provided invaluable instruction for hundreds of students of all ages and skill levels, many of whom have gone on to their own music careers. Indeed, Jenks is a much sought-after guitar instructor in the Portland area, both in his own studio and as a staff member at Portland Community College and Marylhurst University. His approach has been informed by some of the best teachers in the world, including David Franzen, Bryan Johanson, Scott Kritzer, and Ken Johnson (with whom Jenks studied at Colorado Christian University, where he graduated magna cum laude). As a teacher, Jenks generously shares wisdom gained in the master classes of celebrated classical guitarists Christopher Parkening, Scott Tennant, Ricardo Iznaola, David Russell, Eliot Fisk, Angel Romero, Pepe Romero, and John Williams.
Jenks’s contributions to music were recently honored in the form of a gorgeous classical guitar, built by renowned luthier Jeffrey Elliott and gifted to Jenks by an anonymous benefactor. It is a fitting tribute to a remarkable artist.