Robert Phillips (guitarist)

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Robert Phillips
Born New York City, New York
Genres Classical music
Instruments Classical Guitar
Labels TPL, Mel Bay, Centaur Records
Notable instruments
Frank Haselbacher, Augustino Lo Prinzi

Robert Phillips (born July 26, 1953 in New York City) is an American classical guitarist.

Early life[edit]

The son of Dr. Robert Michael Phillips(born Robert Warren Phillips) and Dr. Irma Phillips née Pedrogo who resided, although only briefly, in Valley Stream, New York. A few months after his birth his parents returned to his mother's native Puerto Rico, living in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Three years later they returned to the U.S., residing for two years in Brooklyn, New York and then relocating to Deer Park, New York. Robert attended Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic school and then Seton Hall High School.

Musical training[edit]

Phillips began his musical training at age 8 on the accordion. He began to teach himself the guitar at age 12. He did not work under a teacher until 1967, when he began to learn finger-style folk guitar. After one year of lessons, Phillips, according to himself, outpaced his teacher, who suggested that he study classical guitar.

In 1971, he entered Hofstra University as a Music Education major, studying guitar under Stanley Solow. On graduating in 1975, Phillips began studies in New York under José Rey de la Torre. In 1976, Rey de la Torre left New York for San Francisco, and Phillips worked on his own for the next two years. In 1977, after attending a three week seminar and master class under the direction of Guido Santórsola and Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Phillips began to study on a more or less regular basis with Barbosa-Lima. In 1979, Phillips decided that a more regular regimen of study was desirable, and he studied briefly with Dennis Koster. Soon after, he returned to school at Brooklyn College in order to earn a masters degree. There, he studied first with David Starobin, and then with Michael Cedric Smith. Phillips graduated with an M.A. in 1982. Although he did play in master classes, most notably by Eduardo Fernandez, Phillips did not return to formal education until 1999, when he entered the University of Miami. Under the instruction of Rene Gonzalez, he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts. While at the University of Miami, he also had the opportunity to perform in a master class given by Sergio Assad.

Professional career[edit]

In 1983 Phillips worked briefly as an editorial assistant on the staff of Guitar Review. Robert made his New York recital debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on October 31, 1987. In 1989 he began writing a monthly classical guitar column in the popular rock guitar magazine, Guitar for the Practicing Musician, and its more general sister publication, the quarterly, Guitar Extra. In 1991 he released his first CD, Guitarre Nouveau, which included works by Philip Glass, Frank Martin, Eberhard Weber, and Thelonious Monk, as well as his own compositions. In 1992, he published “Great Themes and Variations for Classic Guitar” (Mel Bay Publications, Inc.), and released his second recording, a 2 CD companion set to this book. In 1992 Cherry Lane Music discontinued the publication of Guitar Extra, and dropped Robert’s classical guitar column in Guitar for the Practicing Musician. Phillips went on to write several short “lessons” for Guitar Player Magazine. He also contributed articles to Soundboard, the quarterly publication of the Guitar Foundation of America and to "American String Teacher", the bi-monthly journal of the American String Teachers Association.

His doctoral dissertation is entitled, The influence of Miguel Llobet on the pedagogy, repertoire, and stature of the guitar in the twentieth century. (©2002, OCLC 51796355) It was while researching his dissertation, and on the advice of guitar scholars Ronald Purcell and Angelo Gilardino that Phillips sought and found a complete archive of Llobet. His discovery of this missing archive was documented in his article, “Barcelona, Cradle of the Modern Classical Guitar: the Llobet Archive Rediscovered”, Soundboard XXVIII, no. 4, 2002.

Phillips began teaching guitar, music appreciation, and music theory at All Saints' Academy in 1995, and went on to become the chair of the performing arts department until 2008. In 2008, while continuing his duties as an instructor at All Saints' Academy, he began teaching guitar at Polk State College and Southeastern University. In 2010 he left All Saints' Academy, and accepted a position teaching classical guitar at Lois Cowles Harrison Center for the Visual and Performing Arts. He continues to perform as a solo recitalist, ensemble player, and guest soloist. He has premiered works by Alfred Giusto, Frank Brazinski, Eric Ross, Meyer Kupferman, and Michael Colina.

Video Production[edit]

In 1983 Phillips appeared in a series of instructional videos entitled "Classical Guitar Made Easy" which was cablecast on Group W Cable. Following the series, he began to produce and host a monthly talk show on Group W. The talk show, which was called "Long Island Sounds" featured interviews and performances of Long Island based musicians. The show ran for three years, after which Phillips changed the trajectory of his efforts, not returning to video for nearly three decades.

In 2011, taking advantage of new technology and relatively inexpensive production costs, Robert produced and recorded a series of videos of himself performing standards from the classical guitar repertory. Many of these performances were recorded in interesting locations, with the settings of some being almost as much of a feature as the music. Locations included the Museum of Fine Arts (St. Petersburg, Florida), and the Frank Lloyd Wright Danforth Chapel at the Florida Southern College Child of the Sun. These videos were to be bundled together as "video albums", consisting of compositions that were thematically related. The first of these, "A Spanish Recital", consisted of works by Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados, Miguel Llobet, Francisco Tárrega, and Federico Moreno Torroba. These videos were published on the internet in Phillips' YouTube channel along with a series of instructional videos.

Discography[edit]

Guitarre Nouveau; works by Philip Glass, Eberhard Weber, Thelonious Monk, Frank Martin, and Robert Phillips; TPL Records.

Great Themes and Variations for Classic Guitar, 2 CDs; works by Fernando Sor, Mauro Giuliani, Matteo Carcassi, Sylvius Leopold Weiss, Georg Frideric Handel, J. S. Bach, and others. Mel Bay Publications, Inc.

Lo Mestre the Music of Miguel Llobet; complete solo guitar works of Miguel Llobet. Centaur Records

References[edit]