John Powell is a singer, conductor, teacher and adjudicator based in Manchester. A graduate of Cambridge University and associate of the RCM, he has taught at Chetham’s, Bolton School and privately, as well as being a tutor with the National Youth Choir for nearly 30 years. He has taught singing at the Universities of Manchester and Salford and, since 2011, at the University of York.
He conducts four choirs in Manchester, Cheshire and Bolton, with a busy schedule of concerts, broadcasts, recordings and tours, in addition to training groups for special events (including, recently, Belshazzar’s Feast at the Bridgewater Hall and The Dream of Gerontius at the RNCM) and leading a wide variety of workshops. He runs the chamber choir at the CSSM summer school in Sherborne and has recently taken on Ulverston Festival Chorus. In his teaching and conducting he encourages singers to use their voices with maximum confidence and freedom.
John has trained choirs for several distinguished conductors – including Nicholas Cleobury, Nicholas Kraemer, Paul McCreesh and most recently the veteran Richard Bonynge, with whom he has just recorded two CDs of rarely-heard Victorian operas. Further afield, his chamber choir has recently toured in Iceland and Slovenia.
For fifteen years, John was a member of the BBC Northern Singers, broadcasting regularly, performing at the Harrogate and Aldeburgh Festivals as well as the Proms and singing under conductors including Sir George Solti, Sir Charles Groves and Richard Hickox. He is currently particularly active in solo recitals with pianist Russell Lomas. He has twice sung in the prestigious Manchester MidDay Concerts series, on each occasion giving first performances of new works. Recent recital programmes have ranged from Schumann's Dichterliebe and Liederkreis Op. 39 to Wagner, Mussorgsky, Vaughan Williams, Butterworth and Finzi. Later this year he will be continuing a series of performances of Schubert's Winterreise.
His concert repertoire is wide-ranging, from Monteverdi to the present, and includes several rarities like Nielsen's Third Symphony, which he has sung at St. John's, Smith Square, and Michael Ball's Pageant, of which he gave the London premiere at the Royal Festival Hall. John has a strong commitment to contemporary music and has been involved (both as singer and conductor) in numerous commissions. He also greatly enjoys exploring more unusual works: recent performances include the title roles in Dyson's Nebuchadnezzar and Elgar's Caractacus.