Julian has designed and led participatory arts projects for organisations including Wigmore Hall, Glyndebourne, English National Opera, the Royal Opera House, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, and Spitalfields Music.
Internationally, he has supported organisations and musicians to develop their socially engaged and participatory practice in Europe, East Asia and North America.
Julian’s main area of interest is in the field of music, health and wellbeing. Within this he has developed a particular specialism in researching the role that co-creative music making can have for people living with dementia. In 2016, he was invited to become a co-director of Created out of Mind, an interdisciplinary group of researchers who were the recipients of Wellcome’s prestigious Hub Award. He has gone on to lead the research project, The Arts and Dementia: how might the arts contribute to the creation of more inclusive ageing societies? Julian is also a co-investigator for Culture Box: remote and digital delivery of Arts and creative activities to improve the wellbeing of people with dementia in care homes, a research project responding to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Julian‘s performing career has been eclectic; he has premiered new works for solo oboe at the Purcell Room, recorded Stockhausen for BBC Radio 3, performed as a soloist on BBC Radio 2 and appeared with the band Paris Motel at Glastonbury. Julian was as a member of the oboe trio Pipers 3, who commissioned and performed new works from composers including Michael Finnissy, Alasdair Nicolson, David Knotts and Richard Causton. As an ensemble they performed in a range of venues throughout the UK, including festivals (Bath, St Magnus), and community settings including care homes, SEND schools, and day centres. Their performances and events always prioritised strong connection and open communication with audiences, and this has remained key to Julian’s teaching work with Academy students.
- Hannah Zeilig, Julian West, Millie van der Byl Williams, ‘Co-creativity: Possibilities for using the arts with people with a dementia.’ Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, 19, No 2, (2018)
- Hannah Zeilig, Julian West, Victoria Tischler, Millie. van der Byl Williams, Sarah Strohmaier, ‘Co-creativity, well-being and agency: A case study analysis of a co-creative arts group for people with dementia.’ Journal of Aging Studies, 49, (2019): 16-24