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Rohan Phillips :: Composer and Conductor


Rohan Phillips is a composer and conductor living in Bendigo, Central Victoria.

He has written for a range of instrumental and vocal forces and his works have been performed nationally by professional and amateur ensembles.

As a conductor Rohan has worked with a variety of ensembles and is currently musical director of the Bendigo Symphony Orchestra and the choir of St Paul's Cathedral, Bendigo.

Rohan was born in Maryborough, Victoria, in 1971 and began musical studies on the cornet, and later trumpet. After moving to Bendigo he sang at St Paul's Cathedral, Bendigo. He became head chorister in 1985 and received the Anthony Scott Memorial Scholarship for contribution to music at the Cathedral.
In 2007 Rohan was appointed co-Director of the St Paul's Cathedral Choir. In 2011 he was appointed as a Cathedral Canon.

In 1986 Rohan joined the Bendigo Symphony Orchestra as 1st trumpet under the direction of Wim Simmelink. It was here that Rohan developed an appreciation for orchestral music.

Early efforts in composition were encouraged by Helen Gifford - his 2nd cousin - who continues to be a major influence. As well as tutelage and assessment of early works, Helen suggested further listening and exploration of 20th century music. The 1988 production of Gifford's 'Regarding Faustus' left a strong impression on the young musician.

Rohan commenced formal composition studies under Larry Sitsky and David Worrall at the Australian National University in Canberra in 1989, graduating with a B.Mus (Composition) in 1993, and an M.Mus (Comp.) in 1997. During his M.Mus he received the Harold Allan Memorial Prize.

The title of Rohan's master's sub-thesis was "Theatricality in the Concert Music of Hans Werner Henze and Harrison Birtwistle". The music of Harrison Birtwistle remains a major interest, and one of the highlights of Rohan's 2004 trip to Europe was the opportunity to hear Birtwistle as featured composer at the Lucerne Summer Festival.

Composition highlights have included performances by the Bendigo Chorale Orchestra (Concerto for flute and small orchestra - with Jenny Gogolin, flute), the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (Poem/Eleven hours...), the Bendigo Symphony Orchestra (Introitus: Omnia tempis habent, Serenade, and Odyssey), Arcko Symphonic Project (Seven Fragments after Paul Celan (twice) and flute concerto), Norio Sato (Study: After Paul Celan), Matthew Breaden (Piano Piece/Romance and Episode V), and Timothy Phillips (Study for Percussion and Klee Study - with Mardi McSullea).

With the Bendigo Chorale, Rohan conducted a range of works including Handel's Oratorio Messiah, Haydn's 'Nelson' Mass and Mozart's 'Coronation Mass'. For these performances the Chorale was accompanied by a chamber orchestra. In October 2007 Rohan directed the Chorale and the Bendigo Symphony Orchestra in a performance to mark the Chorale's 50th anniversary, featuring Messiah highlights and Bruckner's Te Deum.
In 2008, to mark his tenth year directing the Chorale Rohan premiered a new composition in each of the Chorale's three performances. For more information go to Bendigo Chorale :: 2008 Season. 2008 also marked Rohan's final year as musical director of the Chorale.

Also in 2008, Rohan was appointed Musical Director of the Bendigo Symphony Orchestra. His first full programme with this ensemble featured Symphonies by Haydn and Schubert as well as Bach's double violin concerto. Subsequent seasons have included works by W.A.Mozart, J.Haydn, L.v.Beethoven, F.Schubert, J.Brahms, A.Dvořák, Gordon Kerry, M.Mussorgsky, as well as his own compositions.

At St Paul's Cathedral, Bendigo, on 17th April 2005 Rohan directed an ensemle of local and visiting performers in the first performance of "Seven Fragments after Paul Celan", his largest composition to date. In June 2008 and 2010 the Fragments were performed in Melbourne by the Arcko Symphonic Project, directed by Tim Phillips. For more information in this work and performances please see Fragments information

In 2002 Rohan married Bronwyn at St Paul's Cathedral Bendigo and they welcomed Edward Douglas 'Digger' to the world on Thursday, 11th August 2005 and George Rohan on 3rd June 2008.

Rohan is employed at the City of Greater Bendigo, as an Arts Officer within the Capital Venues and Events Unit.

top Last Updated: 26th October, 2016 Rohan Phillips at the Australian Music Centre