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 recently by BBC Music Magazine as “one of the most successful composers of his generation”, his works have been premiered 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 orchestral work to date, was performed to widespread critical acclaim in 2012 under Esa-Pekka Salonen, and broadcast live from the Royal Festival Hall. It has since received numerous performances both in the UK and abroad, winning the orchestral category of the 2013 British Composer Awards. Major orchestras and ensembles to have performed his works include the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, for which he has written five major works to date, including In Camera and Lumina (commissioned for the BBC Last Night of the Proms). A CD of his chamber music was released by NMC to critical acclaim in 2013, and a recording of his first String Quartet by the Piatti Quartet (who commissioned and premiered the work) is due to be recorded in the near future. A new work for the BBC Symphony Orchestra entitled Partita, a joint-commission resulting from a Koussevitzky Music Foundation Award, will be premiered in May 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, Chroma, Belcea Quartet, Navarra Quartet, Britten Sinfonia, Lisa Milne, Michael Chance, James Bowman, Helen-Jane Howells, James Boyd, Krzysztof Chorzelski, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, 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, Rye, and Little Missenden. Large-scale choral works include Rainland, commissioned by Phillip Scott for the National Youth Wind Ensemble and choirs from East Sussex, 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 at Snape Maltings under Peter Nardone).
In addition to the new work for BBC Symphony Orchestra (2016) future commissions include an orchestral piece for the Philharmonia Orchestra (2016 Three Choirs Festival, cond. Adrian Partington), a set of piano preludes for Andrew Matthews-Owen (a Richard Thomas Foundation commission), a chamber opera for Nova Music Opera (a joint 2017 Presteigne/Cheltenmham Festival commission), and a new string quartet for the Belcea Quartet (2018/19).
Since 2008 Phibbs has been a director of The Britten Estate Limited. He has taught at various 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).