Peter Phillips (conductor)
Phillips was born in Southampton. After winning a scholarship to St John's College, Oxford in 1972, Phillips was offered the opportunity to study Renaissance music with the influential musicologists David Wulstan and Denis Arnold. During this period, he acquired a great deal of experience in conducting small vocal ensembles and an interest in exploring neglected areas of the repertoire, in particular, the music of the sixteenth-century composers Thomas Tallis and William Byrd.
In 2005, Peter Phillips was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture, a decoration intended to honour individuals who have contributed to the understanding of French culture in the world.
The Tallis Scholars and other conducting work
In 1973, Phillips founded The Tallis Scholars who, to date, have made 1,600 concert appearances and some 50 commercially available recordings. Through his work with the Tallis Scholars, Phillips has played an important part in encouraging a renewed interest in Renaissance polyphony all over the world.
In addition to his ongoing work with the Tallis Scholars, Phillips is increasingly in demand with other prominent groups specialising in Renaissance music, including the Collegium Vocale of Ghent, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Choeur de Chambre de Namur, the Finnish Radio Choir, Musix of Budapest, and the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal. In 2007, he directed a joint concert at the Albert Hall in London, as part of the BBC Proms series with the BBC Singers and the Tallis Scholars.
Research and writings
In addition to his performance based work, Phillips has also made a name for himself as a musicologist in his own right, publishing new editions of music and writing articles, which have helped Renaissance music to become an affirmed part of the Western musical canon.
Peter Phillips has written regular articles on both music and cricket in The Spectator. In 1995 he became the owner and Publisher of The Musical Times, the oldest continuously published music journal in the world. His first book, English Sacred Music 1549–1649, was published by Gimell in 1991, while his second, What We Really Do, an unblinking account of what touring is like, alongside insights about the make-up and performance of polyphony, was published in 2003.
Phillips directs a large number of master-classes and choral workshops each year internationally, and is the Artistic Director of the Tallis Scholars Summer Schools. These courses take place in Oakham (UK), Seattle (US) and Sydney (Australia) and are devoted to propagating Phillips's style of performance practice, as pioneered by The Tallis Scholars. In October 2008, Peter Phillips was appointed as joint Director of Music at Merton College, Oxford, as part of the new choral foundation based there.