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Ohio University music professor wins prestigious commission

ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 12, 2006) -- Mark Phillips, composer and professor in the Ohio University School of Music, is the recipient of the highly competitive 2006 Pi Kappa Lambda composer commission. Phillips' commissioned work will debut at the honor society's national conference this week. 

The Ohio University Faculty Chamber Players will travel to San Antonio to perform Phillips' piece "Bushwhacked!" for members of PKL and at a concurrent conference for the Society of Composers. 

"It's a tough decision, but Mark is really an outstanding and versatile composer," said Mark Lochstampfor, executive director of PKL. "What I think is most interesting about his work is that while it clearly has what we call a 'composer's voice,' each piece has a unique character to it."

PKL is the preeminent honor society in the field of music. The society's commission is awarded based on an individual's achievements in both musicianship and scholarship. Composers are nominated by their peers and then PKL trustees evaluate and select the recipient of the commission.

"I do feel most honored by this award," Phillips said. "As I began thinking about my work, I decided that it would be great if I could share the spotlight with some of my fabulous colleagues in the School of Music by writing a composition specifically for them."

The resulting piece, "Bushwhacked!" is something Phillips describes as "a work of musical therapy" that comes from the composer's sense of frustration at the current political climate.

"I am also profoundly indebted to the venerable tradition of American blues artists (especially the late, great Ray Charles and legions of musicians from the multicultural New Orleans tradition) who have demonstrated time and again that when you channel your outrage and frustration into your music and share it with your audience, you may discover a way to dance all over your troubles ... at least for a while," Phillips stated in his program note about the piece. 

Ohio University School of Music faculty members will perform "Bushwhacked!" with Director of Orchestras Steven Huang conducting. "I think that speaks well of (Ohio University) and it speaks well of the relationship among the faculty," said Lochstampfor. "I particularly think it speaks well of the faculty's opinion of new compositions. There are a lot of schools that don't support new music." 

Phillips has been the recipient of a number of other awards in the past, including winning the 1988 Barlow International Competition. His music has been performed or recorded by more than 40 orchestras and other artists throughout the United States and in Europe, South America and Asia. Phillips has been a member of the Ohio University School of Music faculty since 1984 and was a Presidential Research Scholar from 1999 through 2004. He was also commissioned to compose the score for "Turning 200" as part of Ohio University's bicentennial celebration.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist Jessica Stark, (740) 597-2938 or starkj@ohio.edu

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