one of the most successful composers of his generation
Joseph Phibbs was born in London, and studied at The Purcell School, King’s College London, and Cornell University. His teachers have included Param Vir, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, and Steven Stucky.
Described last year by BBC Music Magazine as “one of the most successful composers of his generation”, his works have been championed throughout Europe and beyond by some of the world’s leading conductors, including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, Vassily Petrenko, and Gianandrea Noseda. Rivers to the Sea, his largest work to date, was premiered to widespread critical acclaim in 2012 by the Philharmonia Orchestra under Esa-Pekka Salonen and broadcast live from the Royal Festival Hall. It has since been performed extensively both in the UK and abroad, winning the orchestral category of the 2013 British Composer Awards. Other major orchestras to have performed his works include the London Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra (Washington DC), National Youth Wind Ensemble (conducted by Phillip Scott), and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, for which he has written four major works to date, including In Camera and Lumina (commissioned for the BBC Last Night of the Proms). A CD of his recent chamber music (The Canticle of the Rose) was released to favourable reviews last year, and a recording of his first String Quartet by the Piatti Quartet (who commissioned and premiered the work in 2014) is due to be released in 2015-16. He recently received a prestigious Koussevitzky Foundation Award as part of a joint-commission with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for a large-scale symphonic work to be premiered in 2016 at the Barbican Centre under the orchestra’s Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo.
He has composed concertos for Dame Evelyn Glennie (Bar Veloce), Sarah Williamson (Clarinet Concerto), and Nicholas Daniel (Towards Purcell, a concertante work for oboe, horn, harp and orchestra, first performed by The Purcell School under Quentin Poole at the Royal Festival Hall in 2011). His instrumental music has been premiered by, among others, the London Sinfonietta, Chroma, the Belcea Quartet, Navarra Quartet, Britten Sinfonia, Lisa Milne, Michael Chance, James Bowman, Helen-Jane Howells, James Boyd, and the Piatti Quartet, and has featured at festivals including Aldeburgh, Bath, City of London, Spitalfields, Exon Singers (2010 composer-in-residence), Bonn Beethovenfest, Presteigne (2011 Featured Composer), Cheltenham, and Rye. Large-scale choral works include Tenebrae for soprano, choir and orchestra (with Lesley-Jane Rogers and St Albans Bach Choir/Andrew Lucas), Choral Songs of Homage (commissioned by Aldeburgh Music Club for the Britten centenary), and Shadows of Sleep (premiered in 2010 at Snape Maltings under Peter Nardone).
In addition to the work for BBC Symphony Orchestra (2016) future commissions include an orchestral piece for the Philharmonia (2016 Three Choirs Festival, cond. Adrian Partington), a suite for solo violin (Tamsin Waley-Cohen, 2015 Hampstead Festival), Letters from Warsaw for viola and piano (Krzysztof Chorzelski and Laurene Durantel, 2015 Hampstead Festival), and a set of piano preludes for Andrew Matthews-Owen (a Richard Thomas Foundation commission).
Since 2008 Phibbs has been a director of The Britten Estate Limited. He has taught at a number of universities, including King’s College London (2011-14) and Cambridge (2014-15) and currently teaches composition part-time at The Purcell School. His recent music is published by Ricordi London and Boosey and Hawkes (choral works).