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Paul Phillips, composer

Paul Phillips

Paul Phillips, one of New England’s most versatile musicians, is an award-winning composer, conductor, pianist, and author whose talent encompasses an extraordinary range of musical activity. His most recent composition is War Music, a 75-minute setting of verse by Christopher Logue for singers, actors, and chamber ensemble. Commissioned by the Rhode Island-based ensemble Aurea, War Music premiered in September 2005 at the FirstWorksProv Festival; Aurea has also commissioned a string trio, to be performed in April 2006. Mr. Phillips has received ASCAP composition awards annually since 1996, prizes from the New England String Ensemble and St. Botolph Club Foundation, and grants from the American Music Center and Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. In collaboration with the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Bill Harley, he has composed and arranged works for children that have been performed by orchestras throughout the country. Among the groups that have performed his music are the Norwalk Symphony, Indianapolis Philharmonic, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, and Marsh Chapel Choir. In addition to concert and theatre works, he has composed for film and television.

Director of Orchestras and Chamber Music at Brown University since 1989, Mr. Phillips is Music Director and Conductor of the Brown University Orchestra and the Pioneer Valley Symphony. He has guest conducted more than 60 orchestras, choruses, and opera and ballet companies worldwide, including the San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Iceland Symphony, Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra and Choir, Boston Academy of Music, and Opera Providence. He has held posts at the Frankfurt Opera, Stadttheater Lüneburg, Greensboro Symphony, Greensboro Opera, Savannah Symphony, Maryland Symphony, and Rhode Island Philharmonic, and will soon guest conduct Boston’s Masterworks Chorale as a candidate to become its new Artistic Director. Acclaimed as a conductor “who was born to stand on a podium,” he has won eight ASCAP Awards for “Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music,” including First Prize in 2005 with the Brown University Orchestra in the Collegiate Orchestra Division. Other conducting honors include First Prize in the NOS/Dutch Broadcasting Foundation International Conductors’ Course, First Prize in the Wiener Meisterkurse Conducting Course in Austria, and selection as Finalist in the Exxon/Arts Endowment Conductors Program. He has worked with such musical luminaries as Itzhak Perlman, Steve Reich, Dave Brubeck, and Dizzy Gillespie, and possesses a conducting repertoire of over 900 works.

As a pianist, Mr. Phillips has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Recital Hall, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, and recital series nationwide. Considered the world’s leading expert on the music of the British composer/novelist Anthony Burgess, he wrote the Burgess entry in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, is a featured commentator in the BBC television documentary The Burgess Variations, and authored A Clockwork Counterpoint: The Music and Literature of Anthony Burgess, which will be published in 2006 by Manchester University Press. He is also known for his writings on Stravinsky; Richard Taruskin cited his article “The Enigma of Variations” as “the best exposition in print of Stravinsky’s serial methods.”

Mr. Phillips attended the Eastman School of Music and the Tanglewood and Aspen Festivals, and graduated with honors from Columbia University. He holds a graduate degree from Columbia in composition, and from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in conducting. His teachers have included Leonard Bernstein, Leonard Slatkin, and Kurt Masur. In 2005, Mr. Phillips joined the artist roster of Jonathan Wentworth Associates.

December 3, 2005