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Philharmonic Society of Orange County Appoints Tommy Phillips As New President and Artistic Director

IRVINE (Sep. 17, 2018) – The Philharmonic Society of Orange County announced today the appointment of Tommy Phillips as its new President and Artistic Director, effective October 1, 2018. Phillips succeeds John Mangum, who stepped down from this role in April to become the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Houston Symphony.

In a career spanning more than 15 years, Phillips is known for his innovative programming ideas, reliability and trust within the classical music industry, and for his capacity for creative ingenuity. Holding artistic positions and programming consultancies at orchestras across the country, Phillips has guided music directors, and helped build strong foundations and connections for institutions including the San Diego Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Pacific Symphony, and Mainly Mozart Festival, among others.

Following his passion for cultural exchange and musical ambassadorship, Phillips is also the co-founder of Black Cats Production Company, an international touring and performing arts organization bringing performing ensembles to China and Chinese ensembles to the United States. His extensive list of clients includes violinist Joshua Bell, the Shanghai Quartet, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and France’s Malandain Ballet Biarritz.

“We are excited to have Tommy Phillips join the Philharmonic Society. In addition to his extensive artistic expertise, we were delighted by his passion for classical music that shone in each of our meetings with him,” said Donna Kendall, Chairman of the Philharmonic Society’s Board of Directors. “His commitment to artistic excellence and community engagement will resonate with our audiences, and with his energy and enthusiasm, he will move the organization forward as we continue to build upon our 65 seasons of presenting the world’s finest orchestras and international artists.”

“I am both thrilled and humbled to lead this great institution. My career has been dedicated to building and fostering connections between artists, audience, and community, and I look forward to sharing exciting programming with the diverse Orange County public, building compelling connections between the artistic community and stellar Philharmonic Society education programs, and to working closely with the dedicated Board, volunteer groups, patrons, and professional staff,” said Phillips. “This is an exciting time for the Philharmonic Society to pave a new path of strengthened relationships, musical partnerships and presentations of the highest artistic level. As a destination for the world's great orchestras, ensembles and musicians, I look forward to making the Philharmonic Society my musical home as well.”

Phillips’ selection follows a six-month nationwide search, which was conducted by the firm m/Oppenheim Associates and guided by a search committee led by Philharmonic Society board members Sabra Bordas and Donna Kendall and comprised of Philharmonic Society board members and longstanding supporters.

During his eight years with the San Diego Symphony, most recently as Director of Artistic Planning, Phillips oversaw the strategy and implementation for all artistic programs, festivals, recording sessions, commissioning projects, and national and international tours. He also developed and produced large-scale multi-media concerts (including the first ever Live-to-Film world premiere of a major motion picture with live orchestra), and built key relationships with major brands such as Disney, Paramount and Comic-Con.

Raised in San Diego, Phillips attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning his bachelor’s degree in Music Performance (trombone) and went on to pursue Graduate studies in Trombone Performance and Arts Administration at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory.

Phillips is married to Julie Smith Phillips, Principal Harpist for the San Diego Symphony. They have two young children - Samantha, and Henry.

Chantel Chen Uchida, who has been with the Philharmonic Society since 2002 and oversaw the Marketing, Public Relations and Patron Services departments, has served as Interim President of the Philharmonic Society since April. She will work closely with Kendall and Phillips to ensure a seamless transition. “We thank Chantel for her deep commitment to the organization and her extraordinary leadership during our presidential search. Her talent and wisdom during this transitional period contributed to a strong end to the 2017-18 season both artistically and financially, and set up a smooth path for the 2018-19 season and our new leader,” said Kendall.

Among the highlights of the Philharmonic Society’s upcoming 65th season (2018-19) includes a two-concert residency by the Czech Philharmonic on its first U.S. tour under the direction of its newly appointed music director Semyon Bychkov, along with returns by the Mariinsky Orchestra led by Grammy-winner Valery Gergiev, the Russian National Orchestra with Van Cliburn medalist George Li led by Mikhail Pletnev, the Los Angeles Philharmonic with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet led by Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki, and the Taiwan Philharmonic with pianist Stephen Hough led by Shao-Chia Lü. The season also features recitals by pianists Sir András Schiff, Murray Perahia, Marc-André Hamelin, and Beatrice Rana, as well as the 2019 Laguna Beach Music Festival with pianist Joyce Yang serving as Guest Artistic Director. The season also marks the return of internationally acclaimed artists such as violinists Joshua Bell, Itzhak Perlman, and Anne-Sophie Mutter; cellist Johannes Moser; Japanese taiko drumming troupe Kodo; Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain with the Masters of Percussion; and the St. Lawrence String Quartet, among others.

The Philharmonic Society’s Orange County Youth Symphony, which performs Gustav Holst’s celestial showpiece The Planets led by guest conductor and LA Phil Dudamel Fellow Elena Schwarz in the Philharmonic Society’s annual family concert in December, will reprise the repertoire for the Philharmonic Society’s 2018-19 Concerts for Fifth Graders education program. The Youth Symphony’s season finale concert in April celebrates the 10-year tenure and final performance of Daniel Alfred Wachs as the Youth Symphony’s music director, and will feature more than 150 instrumentalists on stage as the Youth Symphony joins forces with musicians from Diamond Bar High School for Rachmaninoff’s powerful Symphony No. 2.

The Philharmonic Society’s nationally recognized Youth Music Education Programs, which reach 160,000 elementary through high school students each year, will continue to be offered at no charge to students, parents and schools. The 2018-19 season will see the pilot of a new classical music and movement performance geared toward second graders, Peter and the Wolf: Musical Stories. The Philharmonic Society also plans to introduce Music 101, a new lecture and demonstration program led by the Philharmonic Society’s lecturer-in-residence, KUSC host and producer Brian Lauritzen to introduce audiences to the elements and art form of classical music and the concert-going experience.

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