Julian Power BEM
Julian considered it a real honour and privilege to conduct Isle of Man Choral Society. He had held this position since 2007 when the late Pam Duchars stepped down from that role, until he passed the baton to Dr Mandy Griffin at the end of September 2021. He studied singing, piano and organ, harmony and counterpoint, choir training and conducting and was a member of the Royal Choral Society, before moving to the Isle of Man in 1977. Soon after he became organist at St Ninian’s Church, Douglas where he has played for over 40 years. He is a member of the Association of British Choral Directors.
Since 1977 he has conducted over 40 musicals at the Gaiety Theatre, Douglas and in 2019 he directed Les Misérables. Since then, he has sung with Island Opera, the Manx Operatic Society and the Douglas Choral Union and has directed the music for shows put on by the Manx Operatic Society, the Douglas Choral Union, the Manx Gilbert & Sullivan Society, and Taylorian Productions. In 1979 he became chorus master of Mananan Opera. In 1980, he became Musical Director of Manx Operatic Society.
From about 1985 he has supported young people learning and playing brass instruments. Currently the official accompanist for all Brass Classes in The Manx Competitive Music, Speech and Dance Festival, (“Guild”) with which he has been connected for over 34 years. He prepares young people from Manx Youth Brass and Manx Concert Brass for their Associated Board Exams. Assists with musicality and aural tests and accompanies for examinations. Similarly, he prepares brass players for Young Musician of Mann Competition and has accompanied them since 1991.
The impact from his contribution to the Manx music scene is mostly seen in the standard of young brass players. Each Saturday morning, he coaches young players who then move onto Manx Youth Band and later to Manx Concert Brass under Director of Music Ian Clague MBE.
After being Deputy for five years, he became Director of Music in 2007 of Isle of Man Choral Society which produces a concert each year supported by Isle of Man Symphony Orchestra. In the last seven years, he has been the official accompanist for Glenfaba Chorale.
His contribution to choral singing is enormous. Since the moment he took over Director of Music of Isle of Man Choral Society the Society has sung: Verdi: Requiem, Webber: Requiem; Parry: I Was Glad; Brückner: Te Deum, Dvořák: Stabat Mater; Fauré: Requiem, Mozart: Requiem; Vivaldi: Gloria, 1953 Coronation Music incl. Parry: I Was Glad; Walton: Te Deum, Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem, Poulenc: Gloria; Jenkins: The Armed Man, Handel: Messiah, Rutter Requiem and Gloria, Mascagni Easter Hymn, Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise [second symphony], Gounod St Cecilia Mass and Jenkins, Sing! The Music was Given [British Premiere] and his Lamentation – A Lament for Syria.
His influence is such that the Isle of Man Symphony Orchestra looks forward to accompanying the Choral Society in its annual concert. His reputation encourages soloists based in the UK to come over to Isle of Man to perform with the Choral Society and the orchestra. There are many small choirs in Isle of Man of which Glenfaba Chorale [mentioned earlier] is one.
However, Isle of Man Choral Society now has 130 members performing huge classical choral music. Other choirs do not have this capacity and concentrate on different genres of music. Such is the size of the choir that together with the orchestra and now Mannin Youth Choir, the only venue able to accommodate a concert with these numbers in Isle of Man is the Royal Hall, Villa Marina, Douglas. His contribution to the Isle of Man choral singing genre is such that the annual concert is virtually fully booked each year which is a rarity for any amateur musical production in Isle of Man. A measure of achievement is at the end of The Armed Man in 2014 there was a pause of almost twenty-five seconds when the applause started and continued for nearly two minutes. Also in 2016 the audience burst into applause at the end of the Hallelujah Chorus which, as you know, does not end the Messiah. Yet again after the last work performed at the April 2019 concert there was a standing ovation lasting several minutes greeting the singing of the British premiere of Sing! The Music was Given written by Sir Karl Jenkins. The young brass players and many singers who have performed under him and progressed to better things all owe him a great debt of gratitude.
It would be remiss not to mention the enthusiasm he instilled in those Isle of Man Choral Society members which he coached to meet the exacting requirements needed to be invited to sing in two concerts during 2018 in New York and Berlin – the latter being a concert to mark the 100 years since the end of World War One with a choir [The World Choir for Peace] of 1,500 from thirty-one countries, when forty-six members sang The Armed Man – “A Mass for Peace” under the baton of the composer Sir Karl Jenkins.
Julian was honoured in the Queen’s New Year Honours list in January 2018 with a British Empire Medal [BEM] for services to the community in Isle of Man and especially for his many contributions to the music scene in the Island. He hopes to remain on the committee as a Trustee after he has stepped down.