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Philips, Julian

Born in Wales in 1969 and brought up in Warwickshire, Julian Philips studied music at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and is one of Britain’s most versatile and busy young composers. His music has been performed across the world at major festivals and venues including the Proms, the Tanglewood Music Festival, Welsh National Opera, Glyndebourne and the Wigmore Hall, by international artists including Gerald Finley, Dawn Upshaw, Sir Thomas Allen, the Vertavo String Quartet, the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra and BBC orchestras.

With a particular affinity for music for voice Philips has been critically acclaimed for song settings of e.e. cummings, Dylan Thomas, Emily Dickinson and Arthur Rimbaud among others. His choral music is included in the Choirbook for the Queen (Church Music) and has been commissioned for the BBC Proms (Sorrowfull Songes).

Following the success of his 1999 orchestral work Strange Seas, commissioned by the Britten Sinfonia and later performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the BBC Proms commissioned Out of Light, a symphonic poem premièred at the Royal Albert Hall by the BBC NOW in 2001. It was revised in 2005 for the Tanglewood Music Festival.

As Glyndebourne Opera’s first ever Composer in Residence, Philips completed two chamber operas in 2007; Of Water and Tears and Followers, a site-specific promenade opera with a libretto by Simon Christmas. In August 2009 Philips collaborated with librettist Edward Kemp on a further one-act chamber opera for Glyndebourne, The Yellow Sofa. Knight Crew was commissioned by Glyndebourne and was critically acclaimed following its première run in March 2010. The year-long development of Knight Crew was filmed by BBC Television and the resulting series, Gareth goes to Glyndebourne, aired in June 2010. Since 2007 Philips has also worked with The Opera Group, Welsh National Opera and W11 opera on Varjak Paw, chamber operas Dolffin and Wild Cat, and Good Intentions respectively. Philips’s most recent opera was How the Whale Became, another collaboration with Edward Kemp, based on Ted Hughes’s The Dreamfighter and other creation tales and written for the Royal Opera House’s Christmas 2013/14 season.

Philips has also written two full-length ballets for Michael Corder and English National Ballet; a ballet based on Les Liaisons Dangereuses was followed by The Snow Queen in 2007 based on the music of Prokofiev.

Ballet and opera are natural progressions for Philips, who already has an impressive track-record in composing for the theatre. He has enjoyed a particularly fruitful artistic partnership with director Michael Grandage. Their production of As You Like It (Lyric Hammersmith/Crucible Theatre) won the South Bank Theatre Award (2001).

A vital force in education, Philips took up the post of Joint Head of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in September 2004. He has tutored at Cambridge University, and led innovative adult learning programmes at the Wigmore Hall and for the Orchestra of the Swan. In 2007 Philips was made Honorary Fellow of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

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