The composer’s biography.
Xavier Geerman was born on the 2nd of August 1987 on an Island called Aruba. Most of his family members were amateur musicians, and they would often play cover songs at birthday parties, holidays, or other family gatherings. As a child, Xavier was often encouraged to play small percussion-like maracas by his parents at family parties.
It was a habit/tradition to switch instruments between songs. This was done because not everyone could play all the songs on the guitar, but everyone could play a percussion instrument so they would exchange instruments in between the songs. Xavier wanted to play the guitar too but he was not allowed to play it because he was too small to hold something so expensive and fragile, and he did not know how to handle fragile items properly yet. At the age of five, he finally learned 3 basic chords on the Venezuelan cuatro, and at the age of 6, he met Robin Giel who thought him how to play more chords. At the age of 7, his mother started teaching him a few chords on the classical guitar and at the age of 10, he started taking classical guitar lessons.
In December 1999 at the age of 12, he bought his first electric guitar and created his first band called cold flame, with his cousin and his best friend. This is when he started writing songs for the first time. They played their “first gig” (which was just a few blink 182 songs) at his cousin’s birthday party, and later that year they replaced Xavier’s cousin with Robin’s cousin Omar Geerman, and they renamed the band Counter Clockwise, which much later was re-renamed to Unwanted by Neighbours.
Apart from this he also joined Robin’s folk band called “Tipico Hubenil Santa Cruz”. This band was mainly created to continue the tradition of performing the Dande at people’s front door to wish them a good year, and to perform at the annual Dande Festival. They later started to perform at other events like the “Festival di Himno y Bandera”, and they also performed for Queen Beatrix and her family.
This band (much like his musician family) required everyone in the group to be able to play multiple instruments and to be able to sing the Dande. Since they were playing all day every day for 3 to 5 days straight, switching singers and instruments was a good way to take the load off in order to make it to the end of the trip.
During this time Xavier would learn to play the wiri, tambor, maraca, Clavio, and especially the Cuarta, which thanks to the teachings from Robin Giel, his brother Rocky Giel and their cousin Omar Geerman, Xavier would reach a high level on this instrument.
The three teachers were all cuarta students at the “school di musica Harpa y Cuarta” and they were taking cuarta lessons from Doodle Sophia. Xavier was invited to join this class and after an examination, Xavier, Rocky and Omar together with 3 others were all re-assigned to a higher level class which was called “Supreme Avansa” (supreme advanced).
Xavier (and the rest of the class) would later graduate from this class and receive their “Supreme avansa” Diploma.
At the age of 13, he stopped taking classical guitar lessons and started taking jazz improvisation lessons on his electric guitar. He was also writing and arranging complete songs for his band. A year later he started taking lessons in sight-reading and ear training. At the age of 15, he joined the school’s jazz ensemble and started taking lessons in jazz harmony.
In 2006 at 18 years old he graduated from high school. A year later he went to the Netherlands to continue his music career. In 2008 he was accepted in the preparation year of Fonty’s conservatory but he later failed to enter the first year due to getting distracted from his studies by the recording sessions and live performances that he was doing with his band from Aruba.
Between the years 2008 and 2012, he spent most of his time studying and experimenting with different music genres. He also played with 2 different bands and accompanied different artists and was playing live shows every 2 weeks. He was also writing and co-writing songs and recording them with these artists.
On January 14th, 2012 he started taking his first lessons in orchestration for film and tv using the Berklee online certificate programs. By the end of September, he received a specialist certificate from this course. By then he was orchestrating his own compositions and arrangements. Some of these are available on youtube. He wrote a few concertos for string ensemble, one of which is still being performed by the “Jeugd strike ensemble” in Apeldoorn.
2013 was a year of study and progress. He expanded his online courses to a Master’s program (which includes 8 different courses) and he was also studying classical music in his free time. In October he started working with Tamara “Claymara” Tanger (a clay animation artist). He was composing background music for her clay animations. He has also been studying to become a piano technician since 2012. He graduated from this school in 2014 with one of the highest grades in the class of 2014.
In 2014 he was accepted at the Fonty’s conservatory in Tilburg and started his bachelor’s in classical music composition. He also finished his certificate program and received a master’s certificate in orchestration for film and tv. He also participated in the composition meets choreography event that takes place during the night of the arts festival at the Fonty’s academy of music and performing arts.
In 2015 he earned his propaedeutic diploma and he co-organized his first classical music event. Later that year he was invited to be a part of the composition meets choreography event again. He also composed a piece called “Tumbacali” for the “FC Jongebloed” ensemble. This piece has become a source of inspiration for him, because of the use of Aruban Rhythms in combination with European music composition techniques.
Early in 2016, he started researching the music history of Aruba. He wanted to use this knowledge in his upcoming compositions. During this year he visited Aruba 2 times to continue this research. Next to this research he started experimenting a lot more with the Aruban rhythms and mixing them with European classical music. In March of that same year, he participated in an “after-talk” (a discussion between student- and professional artists about the current and future direction of the opera) during the opera forward festival in Amsterdam.
He also composed a piece for the carillon of the “Heikese Kerk” (a church) in Tilburg. The composition was named “Philomena”. This piece had its premiere during the celebration of the 50 years anniversary of this carillon.
He also composed a piece for a soprano, guitar, and cello. This one was titled “Guardian angle’s plea and was inspired by the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Next to this he also composed a piece for Soprano, Alto, and harpsichord. It was a modern Kyrie Eleison.
In September 2016 he was asked by Andreas van Zoelen to compose a piece for his saxophone ensemble. He was also instructed that it would go in premiere at the Royal Concertgebouw of Amsterdam. Next to this he also participated again in the Composition meets choreography event. This year he composed a piece that was called “False awakening”. This was a 10-minute piece that was composed together with another composer called Loes Reiling. They each composed half of the piece.
On the 11th of January of 2017 his new composition titled “Ashes to Ashes” made its premiere at the Royal Concertgebouw of Amsterdam.
In February 2017 he participated again in an after talk during the Opera forward festival of Amsterdam. From March till May he worked closely with choreographer Sarah Perscimone on a composition for her Bachelor’s final exam. This piece was called “Ospiti” and it went into the premiere on the 31st of May 2017. It was well received and it had a few follow-up performances during the summer vacation up until the end of October.
Next to these two projects, Xavier was also asked to compose a piece for the saxophonist Kinga Szilágyi. It was for her final exam of her Master of Music degree and it was performed in the Concert hall of Tilburg on the 26th of June in 2017.
He also composed 2 other pieces on the side, one for a flute quartet and another for two singers and an organ. But these last two haven’t been performed yet.
In the summer vacation, he traveled to Aruba and he attended the “Aruba symphony festival”. There he met oboe-ist Courtney Miller from Iowa and he is currently writing a piece for her. He also met Flutist and director of the national flute orchestra of Venezuela Maria Gabriela Rodriguez. He later sent her a piece for flute quartet and is waiting to hear about the performance.
Just before he left for the vacation he was asked to write a piece in the style of “De Stijl” for the Anthony Kok festival in Tilburg, and this piece was performed in the “New Vorst” on October 7, 2017. After that, he also composed a piece for the event called Fiomarathon. It was an event that took place during the November Music festival in s’Hertogenbosch. The piece was performed by “FC. Jongebloed” in the “Willem twee concert hall in s’Hertogenbosch on the 9th of November 2017, and in the Canal in Tilburg on the 21st of November 2017.
In late September of 2017, he met choreographer Hanna-Lina Hutzfeldt during an interdisciplinary speed date. They started working closely together on a performance that was called “Het is waar”. This performance premiered on the 22nd of December of 2017 during the night of the arts festival at the Fonty’s academy of music and performing arts.
In January of 2018, he composed a piece for solo guitar that was called mother’s home. It was the first composition of a series in a project called “Project Ruins”. It is a project that focuses on the ruins of Aruba and the idea is to compose music that matches these old buildings and their history through the eyes of modern society. Mother’s home was mixed with an abstract dance that was performed by choreographer/dancer Sarah Prescimone and it went into the premiere on the 11th of March 2018.
In April 2017 Xavier was asked by the artistic director Anthony Heidweiller to be a part of the Opera Forward Festival in Amsterdam. He was asked to compose a mini-opera for this festival. He then worked for almost a year within a creative team to realize this opera. This opera project was different from the other ones of the festival because it was allowed to be longer (20 minutes instead of 10 minutes) and it was an opera for the youth. We were also the only group that started working with a director at the beginning of the writing process. Xavier composed a 20-minute mini-opera alongside his composer colleague Loes Reiling under the direction of Elena van Leuven.
This opera went into the premiere on the 17th of March 2018. On the last performance, they were visited by Director Pierre Audi who was interested in this project. His reaction was that it was the most progressive opera that he had yet seen during the whole Festival, combining innovative direction with modern music and scenery while still using the traditional opera voice sound. He expects great things from us in the future.
In 2018 Xavier was nominated for the “Jacques de Leeuw” prize. It is a €10.000 prize that is given to the most outstanding artist of the Fonty’s academy of arts. Each art department nominates what they consider the best candidate from their department and these nominees then compete for the prize. Xavier did not win the main prize, but he did win an “atelier” prize, which means he gets to work in a studio for free for a whole year.
In May 2018 Xavier met the Greek choreographer Vicky Angelidou and she thought him a few dance improvisation techniques such as “lead and follow”, which they developed together applying it to music improvisation as well. In October of that year, they started a project together titled “Hear me to see you” which was a performance for experiencing the world of the deaf and the visually impaired. The musician (Xavier) would perform with earplugs on, while the dancer (Vicky) would perform wearing blindfolds. Later they’ve split the project into two where Vicky will continue with the Blind department and Xavier with the Deaf department. This project is still active.
In September Xavier and Hanna-Lina reunited and they created an improvised performance that resembles a shamanic ritual using a loop pedal and percussions, and they performed it at “De schatkamer”, an event organized by the “Ateliers Tilburg”. Hanna later developed the performance, researching the world of trans-disciplinary. They renamed the performance “Soxir” and Hanna invited two dancers (Rosalie van Wamel and Saskia Neuen) to take her place and they premiered the piece at Fontys’ night of the arts 2018.
On the first of January 2019, Xavier Performed at “The Loft” in Kiel, Germany. The loft is an atelier owned by Choreographer Leon Emil Franzke. On the 1st of January 2019 Leon organized a new year dance event at the Loft where Xavier took part in assisting the workshop musically and giving an acoustic performance performing his original songs. He was then invited to Perform at the Dwarsdriewar Festival in Kiel.
In March 2019 Xavier wrote a new song for a dance performance titled “Hell Yeah”. This was performed in the “Theater aan de rijn” in Arnhem.
Xavier also performed at the Rotterdam Ahoy with the Aruban band called Saborrr later that month.
In may 2019 Xavier Performed at the Dwars Driewar Festival in Kiel, Germany. He performed there with 4 different projects which were: Smeso, Hear me, Sloxir and Project Sea.
On July the 7th of 2019 Xavier helped organize the “Closed eyes Festival” in Tilburg. The Closed eyes festival was intended to bring the world of the visually impaired to the world of the seeing. It was meant to open up conversations between the two worlds. The building was designed to allow the audience to walk around and explore different art disciplines and workshops with closed eyes. Xavier Both helped to organize the event and he also performed there with three projects: Smeso, Hear me and Blind constand movement.
A week later he performed at Dance Days Chania Festival in Creta, Greece. Together with Vicky Angelidou, they performed a newer version of “Hear me” at an art gallery in the city center.
On the 5th of August 2019 they both performed hear me at the theater boulevard in s’Hertogenbosh.
Later that week he participated at the “Kaapstad Festival 2019” in Tilburg with the Feedback group. Feedback is an artist collective that creates environments for open discussion and art experience which was founded on the 1st of Febuary of 2019 by a group of artists from different disciplines, and Xavier was one of the founding members.
A week later he performed with Chachara in Belgium.
The sunday after (18th of august 2019) Xavier Performed with Aymar Torres at Lokaal zeven in Tilburg.
On the 10th of September 2019, Xavier Performed at the so-called “Potato Festival” at Fontys Academy. This event was organized by Cynthia Hathaway and is part of her research into connecting the different disciplines through the Rhizome philosophical concept.
In the first weekend of October 2019, Xavier performed at the PPLG conference in Thessaloniki, Greece. He was there mainly to perform “Hear me” with Vicky however he was approached by the Colombian Bassist Juan David Garzon to jam with him during the Opening Ceremony and later with the orchestra workshop and at the closing ceremony. He also performed at the afterparty. on Sunday night.
Xavier Performed with Dubbinance (a reggae band) on the 26th of October 2019. This was the premiere of the band and it was well-received.
On the 28th of November 2019, Xavier received his Diploma for Bachlores music composition at the Fonty’s conservatory.
In November 2019 Xavier Created music for a project called Camera Obscura. This project was created by Sarah Prescimone and the idea was to create music/atmosphere using only the sounds that a DSLR camera makes. The performance had its premiere on the 13th of December 2019 and it was well-received. There were 2 other performances planned for January and February. Due to unforeseen circumstances, one of the performers was no longer able to perform on these two dates. Sarah approached Xavier as a potential sit-in and Xavier ended up performing the 2 dates.
On the 20th of December 2019 Xavier performed SMESO (smell and sound) and the “Cadushi festival” on Aruba.
After that he performed at “Quivit” in January.
In March 2020, Xavier was invited to join an artist collective called the Otherside collective. He started rehearsing with them online for a year, with the hopes of going on residency with them soon. They did multiple online performances and a year later they went on a residency with them in Italy.
In between May and June Xavier participated in a Livestream event called “yesterday’s elephant” which was hosted by the Canadian musician David Lynch. It was a 24hour project where the artists had 24hours to record a performance and send it to the host and have it played back during the Livestream. There was a total of 11 Livestreams and Xavier participated in 5 of these.
In May Xavier performed with Sarah Prescimone on a local bridge. The performance was called “the birth of darkness” and it was an introduction to “Exolvuntuur”.
On Sunday the 2nd of August Xavier performed the project called Smeso at the Dwarsdriewar Festival in Kiel, Germany.
On the 9th of August 2020, Xavier and Sarah created another performance called “Wear and Tear”.
On the 30th of August 2020, Xavier performed in Sarah’s next project titled “Exolvuntuur”. They performed together with Rohiet Tjon Poen Gie.
On the 24th of October 2020, Xavier performed with “A day in the Darkness” project. This project is a result of the “Hear me to see you” project, and in this project choreographer Vicky Angelidou goes more in-depth into the world of the blind in order to try to find a better way to make the dance art more interesting for the people who cannot see it. This performance also included a performer who is vissually impared.
Starting on the 7th of Febuary of 2021, Xavier started experimenting with livestreaming on Facebook as a way to continue his musical career during the Covid Lockdown timeperiod.
On the 28th of March of 2021, Xavier Performed with Jonathan Croes’s folk band in the “Paard van Troj” concerthall during the 2021 Arubaday Livestream pre-recording.
In april of 2021, Xavier started performing in a project called “Deform”, which was created by Iris Woutera. In this project, Xavier would improvise a specific kind of music that is in tune with the moving sculptures that were created by Iris Woutera.
On the 8th of May if 2021 Xavier Teamed up with Sarah again and they created a performance called “Switch”. This project was created as part of an international residency that was taking place that week. Switch was performed online through facebook livestream.
In june 2022, Xavier started working as a sound engineer in Tilburg.