As Senior Lecturer in Music at Brown, Phillips teaches courses in music theory, history, score reading and conducting, and an interdisciplinary course on music's intersections with science, mathematics, history,and literary. He has also taught private lessons in composition, and had conducting students who havegone on to earn graduate diplomas and degrees in conducting from Eastman and Curtis.
Phillips has conducted over sixty orchestras, opera and ballet companies worldwide, including the San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Boston Academy of Music, Festival Ballet Providence, and Netherlands Radio ChamberOrchestra. Recent guest appearances include conducting the stage premiere of Anthony Burgess's Shakespeare ballet Mr W.S. in France, two Messiah Sings for Commonwealth Opera, and Mozart's opera Cosi fan tutte with Opera Providence. This season he guest conducts the Manchester Symphony Orchestra in Connecticut. His recordings include two CDs with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and a Naxos recording, Music for Great Films of the Silent Era, with the RTE National Symphony of Ireland playing music by the American composer William Perry.
The Brown University Orchestra, which Phillips has led since 1989, is considered one the country's finest collegiate orchestras. Under his direction, the BUO has won seven ASCAP Awards; performed in New York at Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall as well as in Boston, Cambridge, Montreal, Shanghai,and Beijing; performed with Itzhak Perlman, Joseph Kalichstein, Christopher O'Riley, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and other illustrious soloists; and collaborated with Steve Reich, Steven Stucky, and many other prominent guest composers. Last season Phillips led the Brown University Orchestra and Chorus, joinedby the Providence College Choir, in a gala performance of Beethoven's Ninth at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence, and in spring 2013 the Brown Orchestra will go on a concert tour of Ireland.
As Music Director and Conductor of the Pioneer Valley Symphony and Chorus since 1994, Phillips has ledthe PVS to new artistic heights, securing its position as one of the preeminent musical organizations in western Massachusetts. He has spearheaded collaborations with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Hampshire Choral Society, Greenfield High School Chorus, Old Deerfield Productions, Amherst Ballet, glass artist Josh Simpson, and other artists and arts organizations throughout the region,and conducted the PVS in memorable performances of Beethoven's Ninth; Mahler's First, Second,and Fifth Symphonies; Brahms Requiem; Verdi Requiem; La Traviata; The Rite of Spring; The Planets; Carmina Burana; Belshazzar's Feast; and Ellis Island: The Dream of America. Under his leadership,the PVS has performed dozens of premieres, won ASCAP Awards in 1997 and 2011, been profiled three times in Symphony Magazine, appeared on the Living with the Classics CD box set produced by Arizona University Recordings, participated in the Earshot Project of readings of new orchestral works in cooperation with the American Composers Orchestra, and represented Massachusetts in the national Ford Made in America Project.
Phillips has composed numerous concert works and well as music for theatre, film, and television. His music received many prizes, including awards from the New England String Ensemble, American Music Center, ASCAP, and NATS, and been performed nationally and abroad. His works include War Music, a music theatre work commissioned and premiered in 2005 by the performance ensemble Aurea, and War Music Suite, for vocal soloists and orchestra, premiered by the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra in 2009. Other recent works include A/B, a composition for actor and chamber ensemble premiered at the 2007 FirstWorksProv Festival; Battle-Pieces, a song cycle on poems by Herman Melville, premiered in 2011 by baritone Andrew Garland with the Pioneer Valley Symphony; and Jack and the Beanstalk, Phillips's latest collaboration with two-time Grammy winner Bill Harley, who premiered it in 2012 with the Allentown Symphony, which commissioned it. As a pianist, Phillips has recorded for film and television,and performed at the Mohawk Trail Concerts, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Carnegie Recital Hall, and Lincoln Center.
With a conducting repertoire of over 900 works, Phillips has conducted much of the standard repertoire, including opera and musical theatre ranging from Don Giovanni to Sweeney Todd. He enjoys jazz and has led concerts featuring Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, and other popular artists. A strong believer in the importance of music in the lives of young people, he has worked extensively with student musicians and audiences as Youth Concert Conductor of the Maryland Symphony for fourteen years and as conductor of numerous youth and All-State orchestras.
After attending the Eastman School of Music as a composition-piano major, Phillips graduated cum laude in music from Columbia University, later earning graduate degrees in composition and conducting from Columbia and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, respectively. He pursued additional studies at the Salzburg "Mozarteum", Académie internationale d'été in Nice, Eastman, Music Academy of the West, Aspen, and Tanglewood. His conducting teachers include Kurt Masur, Gunther Schuller, and Leonard Bernstein. After beginning his career at the Frankfurt Opera and StadttheaterLüneburg in Germany, he was selected for the Exxon/Arts Endowment Conductors Program and subsequently returned to the US, assuming conducting posts in Greensboro and Savannah before arriving at Brown University.
Considered the leading authority on the music of composer-novelist Anthony Burgess, Phillips wrote the Burgess entry in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, was featured in the BBC television documentary The Burgess Variations and is author of A Clockwork Counterpoint: The Music and Literature of Anthony Burgess, the first comprehensive study of Burgess's music and its relationshipto his writings. His writings on Burgess have also been published in the Norton Critical Edition of A Clockwork Orange and four other books - Portraits of the Artist in A Clockwork Orange, AnthonyBurgess and Modernity, Anthony Burgess: Music in Literature and Literature in Music, and Marlowe, Shakespeare, Burgess: Anthony Burgess and his Elizabethan Affiliations. Articles by Phillips on various musical subjects have also appeared in The Journal of Music, Symphony Magazine, and Music Analysis, which published the article "The Enigma of Variations: A Study of Stravinsky's Final Work for Orchestra" that Richard Taruskin, in his book Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions, called "the best exposition inprint of Stravinsky's serial methods."
Published in 2010 by Manchester University Press, A Clockwork Counterpoint has enjoyed wide critical acclaim. According to one reviewer, Phillips is "the world's most energetic and influential champion of Burgess's music", whose "knowledge of Burgess's writings rivals his technical knowledge of music, so that he is better qualified than any previous writer on Burgess to take the full measure of the man's accomplishments." Another described the book as "sumptuous, prodigiously researched, elegantly written", "necessary and splendid", and "seamlessly fascinating", concluding that Phillips "has conjured up a 'new' Burgess that will forever alter his reputation."