Peter Phillips is one of Britain's foremost early music choral ensemble conductors and the founder and head of a leading independent record company, Gimell Records.
Phillips earned a scholarship to Oxford University in 1972 and specialized in Renaissance music, studying with Denis Arnold and David Wulstan. In 1973, Phillips brought together the choral scholars of the various chapels of Oxford and Cambridge Universities to sing sacredRead more vocal Renaissance music. He named the group the Tallis Scholars in recognition of its members' achievement and to honor Thomas Tallis, one of the leading British Renaissance composers. In 1978, the group was organized as a permanent ensemble. At that point, they began regular concerts and tours, which have taken them through Europe, Australia, Asia, Israel, and North America.
Phillips has established himself as one of the foremost scholarly researchers in the field of sacred music before 1600. He is the contributor of a regular column on early music to The Spectator, and published a book English Sacred Music 1549-1649 (the dates of the English Reformation and the foundation of the Puritan Commonwealth), an encyclopedic account of those dramatic years in English music. He has taken an interest in the other arts of the period and is working on a companion volume on the general cultural background of those years. Since 1995, Phillips has been publisher of The Musical Times.
In 1981, Phillips and Steve Smith founded an independent record label called Gimell (the name of a letter of the Hebrew alphabet), solely to record the Tallis Scholars. The label quickly won a strong international reputation for the quality of the Scholars' performances and production quality, particularly for a highly acclaimed CD featuring Tallis' Spem in Alium, a masterpiece of polyphony in 40 voices.
In addition to performing nearly 100 concerts with the Tallis Scholars annually, Phillips also appears frequently on British radio and television programs on musical topics, such as Radio 3's Music Weekly, the BBC World Service, Kaleidoscope, and Today (both on Radio 4), and on American, Canadian, and European stations. The South Bank Show did a major documentary on the Tallis Scholars, showing how Phillips researched the music and prepared the performances, as well as taking the viewer on a Phillips-led overview of the Renaissance period in sacred vocal music. Phillips has conducted the Tallis Scholars at the BBC Promenade Concerts, the Aldeburgh Festival, the Bath Festival, and the Cheltenham Festival. In 1994, they were invited to sing two concerts in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the death of Palestrina, which were recorded and released on Gimell. Read less