Phil was a gifted child musician. He could improvise and play complex pieces by ear from a very young age. He studied classical piano with Ella Pounder and performed regularly. By the age of 12, he had passed all 8 grades with distinction, won many competitions throughout the UK and performed recitals and concerts including performances of Beethoven’s 1st Piano Concerto and Schumann’s piano concerto. He studied with Dennis Matthews from 14, and continued to perform difficult repertoire including Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit and Franck’s Variations Symphoniques.
At 18, Phil went to the Royal Northern College of Music, where he studied piano with Ryszard Bakst and also singing with Vera Cross. At the RNCM, he performed demanding works in many public concerts, including Mendelssohn’s G minor Concerto, Janacek’s Capriccio for piano left hand and wind ensemble, Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments. He won the Frederick Dawson piano prize, the Elizabeth Hannah Lees Scholarship and graduated with first class honours.
AFTER MUSIC COLLEGE TO THE PRESENT
Phil was always aware that his very natural, intelligible and accessible way of playing was rather different from the accepted manners most classical pianists use and because of this, he often felt under-confident in the highly competitive world of classical piano despite the reality that his musicianship skills were of the highest order. So he diversified his musical skills and became involved professionally in a wide range of musical styles and genres. Having always been a fluent and versatile improviser and sight-reader, it was natural for Phil to work as a session musician and vocalist. Early in his career, he used to play and sing jazz in restaurants and hotels. He continued to give classical recitals throughout the UK and in Europe and his clear intelligible style was always loved by audiences. Innovation helped him find the confidence he needed as an artist: he embraces technology and performs now using a stage piano and a laptop running the software, Pianoteq which contains a vast suite of instruments, old, new and futuristic. He also improvises in his concerts, much as classical musicians of the past used to do, and has released an album of improvisations called Inside Stories. He has also released an album of Mozart piano music and many more albums are planned
He also began teaching piano, voice, composition, production and general musicianship early in his career and has gone on to develop a highly innovative and creative teaching approach that fosters musically fluent skills like improvising, playing by ear and true sight-reading – hearing a score internally at sight, rather than decoding the dots – to release true, powerful, self-expressive musicianship.
COMPOSER AND PRODUCER
As well as having composed many piano pieces and songs, Phil has also composed incidental music for theatre, ensemble music for education and has production music placed in commercial music libraries. Whilst he has a strong, individual musical voice, he also composes and produces music across many different styles.