2015-01-18 Notes from the Bench

“The House of Faith Has Many Rooms” by Craig Phillips

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate

 

Craig Phillips (b. 1961) is an American composer and organist whose choral and organ works are regularly heard during worship services across the United States and performed in concerts internationally. His works are regularly sung by and are among the favorites of the All Saints’ choir. He has composed over 125 compositions for choir, organ, and various instrumental groups. Phillips’s compositions are written in an eclectic style, blending a rich and varied harmonic language with contrapuntal writing techniques that draws inspiration from some of the great masters such as Bach and Beethoven and incorporates elements of modern composers such as John Tavener and Arvo Pärt. Phillips has performed as a featured soloist during regional and national conventions for the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and has been commissioned to compose works for conventions held by the AGO and the Association of Anglican Musicians (AAM). He has earned the distinguished First Prize in the Clarence Mader Competition for organ composition in 1994, and has been the judge for various competitions sponsored by the AGO for both composition and improvisation. In 2012, the AGO named Phillips “Distinguished Composer of the Year.” Recordings of his choral and organ works have been produced and have received rave reviews from critics. Phillips has been acclaimed as “an organist of great skill and a composer of great imagination” by Eileen Guenther, past president of the AGO.

 

 

Phillips remembers being fascinated by the organ from early childhood, impressed by the instrument’s great size and sheer power. He has since devoted his career to music. Phillips studied music at the Blair School of Music in Nashville, earned his Bachelor of Music degree at Oklahoma Baptist University, and studied with the renowned pedagogue, Russell Saunders at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY where he earned both a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees, and the Performers Certificate.

Phillips currently serves as the Director of Music for All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills; a congregation he has had a long association with, serving at the Associate Director of Music and Composer in residence for twenty years prior to assuming his duties as director in 2009. He has become completely steeped in the richness of the Anglican music tradition which is particularly reflected in many of his sacred choral compositions.

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