Professor of Music, Martha Raley Peak Endowed Centennial Chair, and Director of Orchestral Activities
Paul Phillips has served since 1996 as music director and conductor of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra (MSO) at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. He also conducts the Meadows Opera Theatre in their main stage performances in the Bob Hope Theatre at SMU and conducts the MSO in collaborative performances with the Meadows Division of Dance at the Winspear Opera House. In the fall of 2013 he was the first person appointed to the new Martha Raley Peak Centennial Professorship in Conducting at the Meadows School.
Before joining the SMU faculty, Maestro Phillips served as music director of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra in New London, Connecticut. He was only the third conductor in the orchestra’s 50-year history to hold that position. He transformed the repertoire of the orchestra, recorded new works for compact disc release, raised the performance standards and brought exciting concerts to the region. Concurrently he held the position of chair of the Music Department and music director of the University of Connecticut Symphony Orchestra.
A native of Dallas, Phillips completed undergraduate studies at Southern Methodist University, where he studied with James Rives Jones. He also studied privately with Richard Burgin, former concertmaster and associate conductor of the Boston Symphony. While earning his Master of Arts and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, Phillips studied with noted conductors David Effron and Gustav Meier. In 1980 he was appointed assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the time Robert Shaw was music director. He was selected for that position after winning an invitation-only competition sponsored by the orchestra.
Phillips has recorded works of contemporary composers on the Grenadilla and Novisse labels. For Centaur Records, Phillips recorded the world premiere compact disc of works of composer Sydney Hodkinson performed by the Eastern Connecticut Symphony and featuring soprano Renée Fleming, star of the Metropolitan Opera. Albany Records released his recent recording with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra of composer Thomas Sleeper’s Symphony No. 1 in 2011.
In addition to his work at SMU, Phillips has a long-standing relationship with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. He conducted subscription concerts with the orchestra in 2010 and 2011, and collaborated (as conductor of the chamber orchestra) with Maestro Jaap van Zweden in performances of Britten’s War Requiem in 2012. He has produced many of the Dallas Symphony’s recordings made during the last five years, and currently acts as producer for the DSO radio broadcast series on WRR. He also frequently serves as cover conductor for the Dallas Symphony, assisting Maestro van Zweden and guest conductors in rehearsals and concerts.
Active as a teacher of conducting, Phillips has given master classes in Spain and, in May of 2009, he served as guest professor at the Liszt Academy of Music in Weimar, Germany, where he taught conducting students and guest conducted the orchestra. His performances with the Meadows Symphony in Caruth Auditorium and the Bob Hope Theatre on the SMU campus, in the Meyerson Symphony Center and at the Winspear Opera House have been met with great audience enthusiasm and consistent critical acclaim.