Jess Julian is currently pursuing their Doctorate in Musical Arts in Guitar Performance at the University of Memphis in Tennessee, studying with Dr. Lily Afshar and Dr. Patrick Sutton. In addition, Jess studies composition with composer and Stanford Visiting Artist Stephen Prutsman.
They were the winner of the 2017 Outstanding Student in Instrumental Performance at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, where they received their Bachelor of Music in Guitar Performance and Music Education degrees. Jess continues to be recognized as an exceptional performer in a variety of genres including classical, jazz, and popular music. They perform as a soloist, chamber musician, and accompanist. In addition, Jess also performs in small and large ensembles such as jazz combos, wind ensembles, and orchestras.
Activism is an important part of Jess’s work as a performer and composer. In December of 2016, they performed a program of all LGBTQA+ composers and performers. This recital was a “pay-what-you-wish” concert to benefit Oakland University’s Gender Sexuality Center. They also performed Benjamin Britten’s Nocturnal after John Dowland at a vigil honoring the victims of the Orlando, Florida Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016. In 2022, Jess performed at the Mighty Real/Queer Detroit Exhibition for Pride Month. In the same year, they also completed an original composition I Will Not Go for SATB, in dedication to queer activism.
Jess has performed in master classes for Xavier Jara, Stephen Aron, Thibaut Garcia, Roberto Fabbri, Celino Romero, David Leisner, William Kanengiser, and Anton Baranov. Jess’s other teachers have included Special Lecturer Bret Hoag and Artist Faculty Denis Azabagic. While some of their favorite repertoire to perform is baroque music such as J.S. Bach, they deeply enjoy playing 20th and 21st century music, especially music that sheds light on important social issues.
In addition to performing and composing, Jess is also a dedicated and accomplished teacher. Jess is on faculty at Mississippi State University as Lecturer of Guitar where they teach guitar lessons and conduct guitar ensembles. In addition, Jess teaches music courses at The University of Memphis such as Introduction to Music and Ear Training. In the past, Jess has been on faculty as the guitar teacher at two Michigan music studios: Rochester Conservatory of Music and Forte Academy of Dance. They have taught ages 6 - 60 years old ranging from beginner to advanced levels. In addition to the diversity in age, they have taught a range of styles such as classical, jazz and popular music. Students of Jess participated in masterclasses, recitals, Michigan Music Festival, and Achievement Testing. Jess is also passionate about bringing music to vulnerable communities. They have taught guitar for the nonprofit charities Guitars Not Guns and The Baldwin Center. Jess also offers lessons private guitar lessons via Zoom.
In addition to their musical ventures, Jess enjoys listening to podcasts, hiking, and coffee.