Mark Phillips won the 1988 Barlow International Competition for Orchestral Music. Leonard Slatkin has conducted his music with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the NHK Symphony Orchestra of Japan. More recently (November 2013), the Peabody Modern Orchestra opened its inaugural concert with a performance of his Shadow Dancing. Earlier in 2013, his String Quartet No. 2 was performed at the Festival Internacional de Música de Bogotá. Following a national competition, Pi Kappa Lambda commissioned a chamber work from Phillips, which led to the premiere of Bushwhacked! in San Antonio, Texas (September 2006). Commissioned for a 2005 premiere in Memphis, his Dreams Interrupted has received numerous subsequent performances in Pittsburgh, Duluth, Baltimore, Dallas, Louisville, South Bend, Birmingham (AL), and Athens (Ohio). In 2004 Phillips premiered Turning Two Hundred, a 50-minute commissioned work for orchestra, jazz band, drum corps, handbell choir, electronic music, eight instrumental soloists, video, and dance. His music has received hundreds of performances throughout the world — including dozens of orchestra performances — and has been recorded by Richard Stoltzman and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lark Quartet, and several solo artists. Mr. Phillips has also received awards from the Ohio Arts Council, the Indiana Arts Commission, ASCAP, Meet the Composer, Ohio University, Indiana University, the Delius Composition Competition, and the National Flute Society. Mr. Phillips is a Distinguished Professor of Music at the Ohio University, where he has taught since 1984. From 1982-84 he was a Visiting Instructor of composition at the Indiana University School of Music. Born in Philadelphia, he holds a B.M. degree from West Virginia University and both an M.M. degree and a D.M. degree from Indiana University.
For me, composition is not just about notes. It is about the communication of ideas and emotions. One reason I continue to be fascinated by composition is that, through music, a composer has a remarkable ability to communicate with listeners simultaneously on multiple levels. Music can appeal to the listener’s intellect with its sophisticated and intricate patterns of vibrations; it can beguile with its palette of tone colors and timbres. At the same time, it can connect directly and powerfully with primal emotions, due to the low-level hardwiring between our ears and our brain that can bypass the intellect altogether. Melodies can burn themselves into your brain. Musical rhythms can elicit physical responses such as swaying, clapping, toe-tapping, or even dancing. For ages, music has been used to set the tone for all manner of ceremonies and rituals. And of course, music can be humorous and entertaining, too. Anyone who knows my music is surely aware of the importance humor plays in it.