Born in 1966 in Colombia, Julian Villarraga discovered singing and conducting at a very early age, leading him to begin studies in Choral Conducting. Showing great talent early on, he conducted several choirs in Bogota, including the National System of Children’s Orchestras Choir of the Batuta Foundation. Equally devoted to the oboe, he completed his oboe studies at the National Conservatory of Colombia and arrived in Switzerland in 1996 to study baroque oboe. First in Geneva with Nils Ferber and then in Basel, at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis with Katharina Arfken, these studies were completed in 2002. Afterwards, he resumed his Choral Conducting studies at the Music Conservatory of Geneva (later known as HEM), first with Michel Corboz and then with Michel-Marc Gervais. In June 2006, he obtained his master’s degree.
On different occasions Julian has studied baroque music interpretation with musicians such as John Holloway, Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Marcelo Bussy, Gabriel Garrido.
From 1999 onwards Julian conducted several choirs in the French-speaking part of Switzerland and in France, achieving broad acclaim and winning several prizes (such as the Gold Medal for Interpretation in 2002 and 2005). He has conducted his choirs in Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Colombia and China.
In 2010 he became the founder of the vocal ensemble alter-echo, a chamber choir distinguished by its interesting programs but also by the finesse of its interpretation. On more than one occasion, alter-echo was called on to participate in HEM projects: either for master’s exam concerts or for projects directed by the great baroque music specialist, Gabriel Garrido.
In September 2009, Julian won by audition the title of Pedagogical and Musical Assistant to the world-renowned conductor, Celso Antunes, at HEM. His responsibilities included assisting Celso Antunes in teaching the Master in Choral Conducting degree and conducting the Chamber Choir. He occupied this position with distinction until August 2012.
Julian’s love for baroque music and his passion for conducting led him in 2015 to found a vocal and instrumental ensemble dedicated mainly to music from this period: Genève baroque.