India's Hidden Gem - Exposed!

Julian Clef  -  Winner of the European Piano Teachers Cup U.K. 2007 

 Julian is now studying at the prestigious Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. It is one of the foremost
specialist Schools in England which exists to educate musically gifted children between the ages of 8 and 18

Julian Clef was born on the 28th July 1990 in Trivandrum, Kerala.. He is the eldest son of Mr. Wilfred and Lizzy George. He has a younger brother Jordon Canto.

I was back home in India in July 2004 trying to help my mother organise a Charity Concert. In my quest to find a decent Piano for this concert, I was introduced to  Julian’s father who offered to help solve this problem. He invited me to attend Julian’s Birthday Concert - the 3rd Bach Festival Concert which he was organising. I was so delighted and I accepted his kind invitation as this  was  the first time I would hear Julian play the piano. Words fail to explain the effect this had on me. He just “enthralled” me with his performance and “touched my heart”. I knew then that I was listening to someone who was blessed with an EXTRA SPECIAL GIFT from God. I have always been passionate about music and I recognised that he had an exceptional talent. I knew he needed to be assessed by eminent pianists who could advise on his potential. Although Julian had been introduced to the piano at a very early age by his father who gave him his first lessons, he had never had any FORMAL teaching. 

In spite of his limited resources Julian pressed ahead with the development of his skills, & with the help of his father undertook many concert performances in front of admiring audiences. Of particular note was a Piano Marathon when he played at the age of 12 for a period of 12 hours to promote the issue of peace.  He received plaudits from a wide range of eminent people.

We were able to sponsor and bring Julian to England in May 2005 to perform at the Rotary Young Musicians Concert in Derby. He also took part in the Mansfield Music Festival in the same month where he won the Trophy for the Piano Open Class, receiving a glowing report from the adjudicator. Taking advice from eminent musicians, we  made arrangements  for Julian to be accessed at the Chetham’s School of Music by the Director of Music Mr. Stephen Threlfall & the Head of Keyboard Mr. Murray Mclachlan. They were so impressed with him that he was offered an unconditional place to attend the School. Following this, he spent a month in Holland & France with Mr.Gary Goldschneider an eminent Pianist & Author, who gave him a period of personal tuition before he returned home to India to complete his I.C.S.E.

The Chetham’s School of Music is a Boarding School & the fees are £ 27,000 a year – Rs. 21 lakhs. There are no Scholarships for Students from India. To enable us to accept the place for Julian to study there we had to somehow raise this enormous sum of money. With the help and inspiration of a WONDERFUL Group of Friends, the “Julian Clef Trust Fund” was formed with Pamela Cook, MBE, Director of the World Famous Cantamus Girls Choir as the President of the Trust. Many fundraising events were organised and many generous donations were received by the Trust Fund.  Having reached our target we were able to accept the place at the school for Julian. He arrived back in England in May 2006 to study under the Direction of Mr. Murray McLachlan, the Head of the Keyboard Department .

What an exciting time  we have had since ! Julian has settled very well and has been a wonderful Ambassador for India & Kerala. He has performed in many parts of England giving Recitals. In October 2006 he was a finalist in a Beethoven Competition that he participated in. Julian also competed in a Concerto Competition in January 2007 and was one of the runners up. He won Third Prize at the Christopher Duke Recital Competition in Watford in May 2007 and was one of the 12 Semi Finalists in the Manchester International Concerto Competition in August 2007. He has taken part in the International Pianist Festival in the Years 2005, 2006 and 2007 and has had the privilege of having piano lessons & master classes from eminent pianists like John Lill, Nadia Lasserson, Noriko Ogewa, Bernard Roberts, Yonty Solomon & Leon McCawley.

Julian is the Winner of EPTA U.K. Cup for 2007.

Julian is now looking forward to travelling to Norway by the end of September to perform at the Trondheim Festival. Future events he looks forward to are – a  recital in St. Martin in the Fields on the 14th of January 2008. On the 5th of March 2008, Julian will be giving a lunch time Recital at the Leeds College of Music. He will also be playing at the Rotary Conference in Southport and will be making  his first appearance with the Nottingham Youth Orchestra on December 2nd 2007 at the Royal Albert Hall in Nottingham.

When we invited  Julian to come to England , we had a DREAM. The saying “Dream & your dreams will fall short” does not apply in this case, as Julian is hitting all the right notes in England. He has surpassed all our expectations not only with his piano playing but also in Maths, Physics, Chemistry & Music. I quote from Julian’s Music Report in July 2006 from his teacher Mr. Murray McLachlan: ”Julian Clef has an absolutely unique talent with a phenomenal aural ability, tremendous spirit, determination and wonderful instincts for music. He has a raw, vibrant and exciting talent that deserves to be nurtured to the highest level. It is impossible to over-estimate his potential for future success in music”.

Murray Mclachlan in 2007 says – “Julian could hardly work harder on the Piano. He continues to make fantastic progress and  to literally “eat up” repertoire at an amazing speed. His intellectual skills are remarkable & his enthusiasm for the Piano shows no limits………..”

Julian is now a member of our family  and I feel very privileged to be part of his life. My special thanks go out to my husband Celestine, to Margaret & Michael Kirk  and all the members of the Julian Clef Trust Fund, to Dr. Moritz von Bredow  & to his teacher Murray McLachlan  for  their  whole hearted support. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Kerala Government  and the Minister for Culture Mr. M.A. Baby for recognising the need to encourage talent such as Julian’s and for their donation of Rs. 25,000 towards Julian’s School fees & of course to Julian’s parents Wilfred & Lizzy George for making this big sacrifice to allow  Julian to come to  England and for the trust they have placed in us.

Julian’s dream is to go on and study at a Music Conservatoire and to be a Concert Pianist. I end with a quote from G.B. Shaw: ”Some people see things as they are and ask why, others dream things that never were and ask why not? We must all work together to give Julian  the opportunity of fulfilling his dream..

Linda John
(Julian’s Guardian)

Video of Julian playing

Julian Clef charms music buffs (The Hindu, Jun 2005)

Malcolm Miller applauds Julian Clef at London's Foundling Museum (MVM Daily, April 2008)

Bach to music (The Hindu, September 2002)