Joseph Phibbs – Festival Composer-in-Residence 2010

Joseph Phibbs - Festival Composer-in-Residence 2010

Joseph Phibbs was born in London and studied at The Purcell School with the support of a Suffolk County Council scholarship, before continuing his education at King’s College London (B.Mus, M.Mus) and Cornell University (DMA).  His teachers have included Param Vir, Sir Harrison Birtwistle. and Steven Stucky, and his works have been performed by leading ensembles in the UK and beyond including the London Sinfonietta, Britten Sinfonia, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra (Washington).  Much of his output has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and he has received commissions the Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, and Bath festivals, among others. He has also written for the theatre, scoring for a number of productions at the Wolsey Theatre (Ipswich), Sadlers Wells, Setagaya Theatre (Tokyo), and The Globe.

Large-scale works include In Camera (BBC SO/Slatkin), Lumina (BBC SO/Slatkin, 2003 Last Night of the Proms), Tenebrae (St Albans Bach Choir/Andrew Lucas), Shruti (LSO/Petrenko), Rainland (a choral drama, to a libretto by Stephen Plaice), The Spiralling Night (featured at the 2007 WASBE conference, conducted and commissioned by Phillip Scott), a clarinet concerto for Sarah Williamson, and a setting of Psalm 98 for choir and orchestra, commissioned by the Bachakademie Stuttgart to mark the Mendelssohn bicentenary.   His largest chamber work to date, The Canticle of the Rose, was premiered at Wigmore Hall by Lisa Milne and the Belcea Quartet, and shortlisted for a RPS Chamber Music Prize.  Other recent chamber works include FLEX (a joint RPS/BBC commission for the City of London Festival), Personnages for Nicholas Daniel, Arc de Soleil for clarinet and piano (premiered by Sarah Williamson at Wigmore Hall in 2008), The Moon’s Funeral for James Bowman and Andrew Plant, and The Silence at the Song’s End, a song cycle for soprano and string quartet based on poems by Nicholas Heiney.  Both Lumina and The Spiralling Night were shortlisted for a British Academy Award, the former in two categories.

A work combining school choirs in Suffolk with the Britten-Pears Chamber Choir will be premiered at Snape Maltings in November 2010, and he will be Composer in Residence at both the Presteigne Festival in 2011 (for which he is writing a new work for strings) and at this summer’s Exon Singers Festival in Tavistock, where smaller choral works will be performed alongside a newly commissioned Ave Regina.  A extract of an opera-in-progress, based on the novel Under the Volcano, was recently featured at Covent Garden’s Linbury Theatre.

Commissions for 2011-12 include a percussion concerto for Evelyn Glennie (Cheltenham Festival, 2011), a large-scale orchestral work (2012), a work for cello and piano (Park Lane Group, 2011), a song cycle for Jeremy Huw Williams, and a work for harp and strings for David Watkins. An NMC CD of his chamber music is due to be released in 2011-12.

Since 2003 Phibbs has combined his composing career with the editing and promoting of Benjamin Britten’s music, and he is a director of the Britten Estate Ltd. He is currently a visiting member of staff at the Purcell School and King’s College London.

A number of his works are published by Faber Music and Oxford University Press, and he is represented by David Wordsworth.  Further information on repertoire is also available at