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Music Director & Conductor
Paul Phillips, the Gretchen B. Kimball Director of Orchestral Studies and Associate Professor of Music at Stanford University, is a renowned conductor, composer, author, and pianist who has conducted over 70 orchestras, opera companies, choirs, and ballet troupes worldwide, including the San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Choir, Boston Academy of Music, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Orquesta Sinfónica de Salta and Orquesta Filarmónica de Río Negro (Argentina). At Stanford, he conducts the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, Stanford Philharmonia, and Stanford Summer Symphony, and teaches conducting, topics in musicology, and interdisciplinary courses related to music.
Phillips has performed with Itzhak Perlman, Christopher O’Riley, Eugenia Zukerman, Carol Wincenc, and many other celebrated classical artists, as well as jazz and pop stars including Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, and Ray Charles. He has also collaborated with Steve Reich, Steven Stucky, Joseph Schwantner, Gabriela Lena Frank, Lukas Foss, Samuel Adler, Michael Torke, Gwyneth Walker, Nico Muhly, Peter Boyer, and many other contemporary composers. His five recordings for Naxos include three discs of William Perry’s music, two with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (Ireland) and one with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, and two discs with the Brown University Orchestra: Manhattan Intermezzo, with pianist Jeffrey Biegel, and Anthony Burgess: Orchestral Music, the first commercial recording of Burgess’s orchestral music. He has also recorded with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.
An award-winning composer, Phillips’s compositions include orchestras works (Brownian Motion, Black Notes and White, Wave, Brass Knuckles), ballet (Celestial Harmonies), opera (Weedpatch), choral music (Three Burgess Lyrics), song cycles (Battle-Pieces, Miracle Songs), chamber music (A/B, for actor and chamber ensemble), and music for the stage (War Music, based on Christopher Logue’s contemporary retelling of The Iliad). His orchestration of Stravinsky’s opera Mavra, published in 2010 by Boosey & Hawkes, has been performed at Glyndebourne and by other opera companies worldwide. As a pianist, Phillips has recorded for film and television, performed at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Carnegie Recital Hall, and Lincoln Center, and performed on numerous chamber music recitals, often accompanying his wife, soprano Kathryne Jennings. In 2019, he founded the Stanford University Ragtime Ensemble, leading it from the keyboard in performances at Stanford and Flower Piano in San Francisco.
Phillips studied at Eastman, Columbia, and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and at Music Academy of the West, Aspen, and Tanglewood, where his conducting teachers included Gunther Schuller, Kurt Masur, Seiji Ozawa, and Leonard Bernstein. He began his career as an opera coach/conductor in Germany at the Frankfurt Opera and Stadttheater Lüneburg. Upon his selection for the Exxon/Arts Endowment Conductors Program, he returned to the US, where he held positions with the Greensboro Symphony, Greensboro Opera, Savannah Symphony, and Maryland Symphony before being appointed Director of Orchestras and Chamber Music at Brown University, where he led the Brown University Orchestra to international renown. In 2016, Phillips received the Harriet W. Sheridan Award for Distinguished Contribution to Teaching and Learning for “extraordinary contributions to Brown as teacher, mentor, advisor, and colleague…as conductor of the Brown Orchestra, you occupy a unique position in which you have exemplified excellence in teaching in multiple ways.” While at Brown, Phillips also served as Associate Conductor of the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Music Director of the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.
Phillips led the Conductors Guild Conductor Training Workshop at Stanford in January 2019 and frequently leads workshops at Stanford with visiting student orchestras. His former conducting students include Charlie Alterman (Broadway musical director of Next to Normal, Pippin, and Godspell), Jonathan Girard (Director of Orchestras at the University of British Columbia School of Music), and Vinay Parameswaran (Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra).
His book A Clockwork Counterpoint: The Music and Literature of Anthony Burgess, the first comprehensive study of Burgess’s music and its relationship to his literature, has redefined critical assessment of Burgess while stimulating worldwide interest in his music. Published by Manchester University Press in 2010, A Clockwork Counterpoint was described by one reviewer as “sumptuous, prodigiously researched, elegantly written”, “necessary and splendid”, and “seamlessly fascinating”, who asserted that Phillips “has conjured up a ‘new’ Burgess that will forever alter his reputation.” Phillips has contributed essays or chapters to six other books on Burgess, including the Norton Critical Edition of A Clockwork Orange; written the Burgess entry in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians; edited and published new editions of Burgess’s music; conducted numerous European and North American premieres, including the first performance of Burgess’s music in Carnegie Hall; and appeared in the BBC television documentary The Burgess Variations. In 2011 he was named an Honorary Patron of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester, England, and in 2015, was appointed Music Advisor. Phillips is also a noted music theorist whose article “The Enigma of Variations: A Study of Stravinsky’s Final Work for Orchestra” was cited by musicologist Richard Taruskin as “the best exposition in print of Stravinsky’s serial methods.”
For further information, visit www.paulsphillips.com.