Julien Xuereb

(MM ‘15 & GPD ‘17, guitar)

Guitarist, Singer, Composer, Songwriter

Innovative French guitarist and composer Julien Xuereb strives to create a unique experience with every performance. His compositional style ingeniously blends elements of Classical, Jazz, and Middle Eastern music. Tim Smith, a critic from the Baltimore Sun, described his works as “subtly nuanced compositions.”

Julien’s recent stage appearances include performances at the TEDx MidAtlantic Conference, the National Aquarium, and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Julien has been featured by media outlets such as PBS, the Baltimore Sun, WBAL-TV, and Maryland Public Television (MPT) for his involvement in community outreach.

Tell us about your journey to your current career path. What were the pivotal moments? What surprised you?

I am currently a freelance musician in Washington, DC, performing Latin and Spanish guitar at restaurants, weddings, and corporate events. I also sing popular songs and regularly perform at retirement communities. Additionally, I have established my own teaching studio in Georgetown, where I instruct 15 to 20 guitar students.

One of the pivotal moments in my career included becoming the first artist-in-residence at Springwell Senior Living while I was a student. I held this position throughout my Graduate Professional Diploma (GPD) studies, allowing me to connect with an audience while making a positive impact in the community. This experience led me to give a TED talk called Music: A Vehicle for Imagination at TEDX MidAtlantic in 2017, significantly boosting my self-promotion and credibility.

Another crucial moment was the end of the pandemic, during which I decided not to return to my previous teaching position at the school but to establish my music studio instead.

What opportunities did you take advantage of in school that helped you to build helpful skills and experiences?

The most impactful experience I gained from the Peabody Institute was the opportunity to volunteer for Creative Access. This marked the beginning of my journey performing at retirement homes.

I was also fortunate to take a Recording Arts class during my Graduate Professional Diploma (GPD). This skill proved particularly valuable during the pandemic when I began recording music videos and giving online recitals. Additionally, the LAUNCHPad office was tremendously helpful during my time at school, guiding me in starting my career and assisting me in finding grant opportunities.

How do you share your work with colleagues, collaborators, and audiences using media and work samples?

I use my Instagram and YouTube channels to share pictures, post videos, and create stories about my performances. I never share anything private on social media and only use it for business purposes. I consider social media a vital tool, but I aim to minimize the time I spend interacting on these platforms.

How has your network and/or community impacted your professional journey?

My network and community have always played a crucial role in the development of my career. I enjoy maintaining personal relationships with clients, whether they are residents of retirement communities, contractors, or students. This has consistently helped me discover new gig opportunities.

Who has been an influential mentor for you and why?

My teacher, Julian Gray, has always been a great source of inspiration to me, both artistically and professionally. Furthermore, the guitarist Rich Barry, who graduated from Peabody a few years before me, was especially helpful in getting me started. He provided me with tips on how to approach clients, present myself, and even gave me feedback on my website and repertoire.

What is an obstacle or challenge you’ve faced in your career journey, and how did you overcome it?

The first challenge I encountered was gaining recognition. Starting from scratch is difficult. I remember calling potential clients directly and only booking 2 to 3 gigs out of 100 phone calls. I overcame this by being patient and gradually building my network. This process takes time and should not be rushed. Now, I am an established musician, having booked over 170 gigs in 2023.

The biggest challenge I encountered was being diagnosed with dystonia in my right hand during my last year at Peabody. This condition is very difficult to overcome and makes it hard to play complex fingerpicking patterns. I had to adapt my repertoire to accommodate this condition and taught myself how to sing while strumming. Even though dystonia does not allow me to perform the most challenging pieces of the classical repertoire, it somehow became an opportunity to explore new horizons that I would not have discovered otherwise.

Have your goals and priorities changed over time? If so, how?

Because booking gigs and making money are no longer issues, I now focus my attention on projects that interest me the most. I released two albums, one in 2015 and the other in 2023, neither of which brought substantial income. However, the process of writing and recording the music is particularly liberating and fulfilling. In my next album, I aim to prioritize collaborations with other musicians who share my passion for music and the arts.

Hear more from Julien Xuereb here in his Max Q podcast episode!


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