When Tania León encouraged me to produce this performance, and I started putting it all together, Phillip Cheah was the first person I called. One of his many talents is an ability to sing in both the bass and the soprano register, and his involvement enables us to perform one of my choral works, Signifying Nothing, with only four people even though it calls for a three-part soprano divisi at one point. But that unique ability aside, Phillip’s musicianship is an invaluable asset to the vocal quartet for the Imaginary Timescapes performance. I worked with Phillip in C4: the Choral Composer/Conductor Collective from its founding in 2005 through 2010, when he left to take a position as Music Director of the Central City Chorus. (Coincidentally, Phillip conducted C4’s premiere of Confessions from the Blogosphere, one of the works he will sing with the vocal quartet.) Whether singing under his baton or alongside him, and especially when he is conducting one my compositions, I always appreciate his heartfelt expression and exacting ear.
Phillip’s voice, praised for its “particularly potent contribution” (New York Times) and a “warm tone and stately presence” (paterre box) with a three-and-a-half octave vocal range that “defies the laws of nature” (Time Out New York), has made him in high demand as a singer and inspired song cycles written for him by Patrick Castillo, Jonathan David, and Frank J. Oteri. Phillip has sung with too many professional choruses and orchestras for me to list them all here, and he is currently a member of the professional choir at the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields. I’ve enjoyed hearing some of his recitals—Phillip collaborates regularly with pianist Trudy Chan in performances at the Tenri Cultural Institute (the Imaginary Timescapes venue), the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields, and the Cornelia Street Café (as part of the 21st Century Schizoid Music Series).
In addition to Phillip’s accomplishments as a singer, his conducting has been hailed by the New York Times for the “warm tone and carefully calibrated blend” elicited from his choirs. Phillip has conducted New Music New York, Cerddorion, Amuse, the Amato Opera, and well as being a founding member of C4: the Choral Composer/Conductor Collective with me, as I mentioned. He is presently the Music Director of the Central City Chorus and the staff accompanist at The Brearley School.
Can’t wait until Feb. 16th to hear this vocal phenom? Check out the “Quire of Cheahs,” a series of all-Cheah choral recordings, or recordings from Phillip’s recitals athttp://www.phillipcheah.com/phillip/Media.html.