New conductor appointed for Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Philharmonia

The baton passes to Paul Phillips, director of orchestras and chamber music and distinguished senior lecturer in music at Brown University. He joins the Department of Music on July 1.

Paul Phillips has been named the new director of orchestral studies at Stanford and will take over the baton as music director and conductor of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Philharmonia. Phillips is currently director of orchestras and chamber music and distinguished senior lecturer in music at Brown University.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome Paul Phillips as our new director of orchestral studies,” said Stephen Sano, professor of music and the Harold C. Schmidt Director of Choral Studies, who headed the nine-member committee that conducted an international search to fill the position.

“He built and sustained an outstanding program at Brown, and even recorded two CDs for the Naxos label with the Brown University Orchestra,” Sano said. “During his visit to campus and audition rehearsals, his ability to instantly engage with the students in our orchestras was exciting to observe, and his intellectual curiosity and history of successful program building is an excellent fit for both the Stanford environment and what we envision for our Orchestral Studies Program.”

Phillips will join the Department of Music July 1.

“I look forward tremendously to working with the marvelous students and faculty at Stanford and to many exciting concerts with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra and Stanford Philharmonia in the future,” Phillips said. “I have already been approached about several fascinating collaborations, even though my new position has not yet officially begun, and am eager to delve into all kinds of innovative activities at Stanford involving the SSO, SP, Stanford Live and other groups in the years ahead.”

Go west

Phillips, 61, was born in New Jersey, and studied piano, trumpet, violin and voice there in his youth. After beginning his undergraduate studies at the University of Rochester Eastman School of Music as a composition/piano major, he earned a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in composition at Columbia University. He earned a second master’s degree, in orchestral conducting, at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and then moved to Germany, where he held positions as a coach/conductor at the Frankfurt Opera and Stadttheater Lüneburg.

Upon being chosen for the Exxon/Arts Endowment Conductors Program, he returned to the United States, where he held positions with the Greensboro, Savannah and Maryland Symphony Orchestras; guest conducted the San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Detroit Symphony and many other major and regional orchestras; and joined the faculty at Brown University in 1989.

Under his direction, the Brown University Orchestra won seven ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, completed concert tours in China and Ireland, performed at Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center (now David Geffen Hall) in New York and gave concerts with Itzhak Perlman, Dave Brubeck and other celebrated soloists.

Phillips has recorded with the Brown University Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (Ireland) and Iceland Symphony Orchestra for Naxos and other labels, and served as music director of the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Massachusetts since 1994. He is an accomplished pianist and composer, and at Brown taught conducting, score reading and composition, courses in music theory and musicology, and an interdisciplinary course he created on the relationship of music with science, mathematics, history and literature. He has also lectured and published widely and is the author of A Clockwork Counterpoint: The Music and Literature of Anthony Burgess.

“It was not an easy decision to uproot ourselves from Rhode Island, where my wife, Kathryne Jennings, and I have taught at Brown for many years and raised our family, but we are both thrilled about the possibilities ahead at Stanford,” said Phillips. “The warm welcome we’ve received from Stephen Sano, Jarek Kapuscinski and many others has already made us feel at home at Stanford. Kathryne greatly looks forward to teaching voice in the music and theater departments, and I can’t wait to begin this fall!”

Media Contacts

Robin Wander, University Communications: (650) 724-6184, robin.wander@stanford.edu