I find great satisfaction in the fact that we - Australia - have one composer who can succeed in a medium of sensitivity in spite of the ugliness and violence predominating in so many countries.
Thus wrote Dr. Miriam Hyde about the music of Australian composer Phillip Wilcher.
Born in Sydney, New South Wales, on 16 March 1958, Phillip Wilcher commenced piano studies at an early age with Gladys Woodward and Jean Teasel. At 14, his first piano composition, Daybreak was published by the publishing house of J. Albert & Son Pty Ltd making Wilcher the youngest published composer in Australia at that time. Recently this piece has been recorded by John Martin on a CD titled Ancient Rivers, released by Wirripang.
As a result of this piece, Wilcher was accepted as a student of Dr. Franz Holford. It was this association with Holford, spanning seven years, which expanded his musical horizons to take in other genres of creativity including art and literature. Further studies with Elpis Liossatos - a graduate of the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest - and the valuable guidance from two mentors of note, Miriam Hyde and Dulcie Holland, rounded off his education. He worked for a time as Assistant Editor for the Classical/Educational Division of J. Albert & Sons Pty Ltd and later for the ABC.
One of Phillip Wilcher's highlights from his childhood years of study with Franz Holford was playing for the legendary Italian organist Fernando Germani who was at that time the Pope's organist who was visiting Holford from Vatican City. Wilcher played for him a Mazurka by Chopin, after which Germani was visibly moved.
His music encompasses a considerable stylistic range and incorporates harmonies from many cultures.
Dr. Jeanell Carrigan said of Wilcher: Whether he wishes to transport the listener to a cafe in Paris or to the top of a mountain in Java, his skilful use of harmony, rhythm and tempi creates the perfect atmosphere.
Wilcher exhibits a strong structural sense, maturity and innovation all within a unique stylistic framework, composing for all levels of difficulty ranging from educational music for young children to pieces of supreme intricacy and difficulty. He has received two Australian record Industry Awards for his educational contribution to the 1991 debut album release, The Wiggles.
Praise for Phillip Wilcher's Musical Offering - 5 early Childhood Musical Activities:
Dulcie Holland A.M., F.T.C.L., L.R.S.M., D.S.C.M: Phillip Wilcher's A MUSICAL OFFERING is an ingenius and imaginative approach to music. Through rhythm and rhyme, movement and sound, the very young person is gently introduced to music as an enjoyable activity. This will provide a wonderful foundation for a lifetime of musical experience and richness.
Rosemary Harle M.A; Dip.Mus.Ed; A.T.C.L; T.Mus.A; Dip. Kodaly Inst. (Hungary); Lic.Calc.Eurhyth; M.I.M.T; M.A.C.E: At a time when we are being inundated with second-rate "music" for children - the main inspiration for which is commercial gain, it is refreshing to find Phillip Wilcher composing quality music for this very special market. A MUSICAL OFFERING is so very appropriate for the young and commendable for its originality and captivating melodies.
Laurie Le Claire, Ph.D; L.T.C.L. Principal Lecturer, Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University: I am delighted with this music. It will appeal to children of all ages, and will challenge them in exciting ways. Phillip has a keen sense of the developing musical perceptions of children.
His music is frequently broadcast by ABC-FM and 2MBS-FM. two documentary programs on his music have been broadcast by 2MBS -FM - "Wilcher and the French Connection" by Mike Smith, and "Wilcher's World" by Jan Brown.
More recently he has written a full-scale piano recital for the virtuoso pianist Simon Tedeschi which has been published by Keys Press. He has composed concert works for the London based Australian pianist Alexander Boyd. Phillip has also written music for one of Australia's finest musicians and pianists, the very courageous, Aaron McMillan.
Simon Tedeschi: Phillip Wilcher's music dreamily evokes another time, another place. It has a searching quality that conjures up images of the great Romantic composers. Phillip wrote a recital for me, which I hope to present soon. Included in that are the ‘Etudes Tedeschi’ which have all the flavour and technical imagination of similar great works in the piano repertoire. I am proud to watch the evolution of this musician and composer who I count as a great personal friend.
Phillip Wilcher is an Elected Life Member of APRA and a Board Member of the Australian Music Teacher Magazine for whom he has written many articles on the music of Chopin, Brahms, Ravel and music education generally.
In 2003 he delivered a paper and workshop at the inaugural Keys Competition in Brisbane on his studies with Dr. Franz Holford called "Himself a Landscape."
Much of his piano music has been recorded by Jeanell Carrigan on four CDs and Phillip Wilcher was recently honoured to have one of his compositions - Ballade for Clive Robertson - released on the ABC Classics CD "Felix and Me".
In reviewing Phillip Wilcher's Rhapsody Sonata the Australian Music Teacher Magazine decribed Wilcher as being a composer highly skilled in his art and an example of Lisztian grandeur reborn.
Photograph: Bridget Elliot
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