Philip Herbert



From an early age, his talent for music was nurtured by his parents and later at the Yorkshire College of Music, where he was awarded a scholarship to further develop his musical studies at the piano with the late Irene Ingram and Dr. John Foster. He also learnt to play the flute, guitar, steel pans, recorders and the violin. He later went on to complete a degree in Music Education at King Alfred’s College, Winchester and later read music at postgraduate level at Andrews University, Michigan, USA. He also gained piano teaching and piano performing diplomas from the Royal Academy and Royal College of Music, respectively. Philip has studied the piano with such teachers as Diana Owen, Guy Johnston, John Owings, and the late Kendall Taylor CBE. He has also a passionate interest in vocal music and has studied choral conducting with the late Simon Johnson and during his postgraduate studies awarded a graduate assistantship, enabling him to work with undergraduate and postgraduate singers in the studio of the head of vocal studies, the late Dr. Harold Lickey. Recently, Philip was elected to be a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Philip Has taught music at all educational levels as well as making music through composing, conducting and performing in a portfolio career. He has coordinated master classes, workshops and concert series, and devised courses and community projects for young people and adults, with creative and interactive input from some of Britain’s most treasured musicians, across an eclectic range of musical genres. He has also been involved in musical projects that have been broadcast on BBC Radio 2, 3 and 4 as well as BBC TV.


Philip Herbert, was born in London and his musical talent was first nurtured by his parents, in Leeds. He went on to gain an honours degree in Music Education from King Alfred’s College Winchester (now University of Winchester) and a Master’s degree in Music from Andrews University, Michigan USA. In addition, he also holds piano teaching and piano performing diplomas from the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music, respectively, in London, U.K. He studied the piano, with teachers such as the late Dr John Foster, Irene Ingram, Diana Owen, the late Kendall Taylor, Guy Jonson and John Owings. He also studied choral conducting at Canford Summer School of Music, with the late Simon Johnson.

Philip has eclectic interests and has taken the path of a portfolio career, where he has enjoyed combining teaching up to University level, composing, Examining for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music for a period, writing for publication,  performing, project origination and broadcasting: as well as developing workshops, masterclasses and residencies across an eclectic musical range, for young people and Adults, of all abilities, in collaboration with some of Britain’s finest musicians.

As a performer he has accompanied Handsworth Youth Chorale, in a performance in Birmingham Cathedral in a broadcast for BBC Radio 2 in March 1986. Furthermore, he has sung with London Adventist Chorale in a performance of Kurt Weill’s ‘Cry the Beloved Country’, alongside the BBC Singers, the Matrix Ensemble and soloists: directed by the conductor, Robert Ziegler, in BBC Prom 46, August 1993. In July 1996, Philip directed a concert of Baroque vocal works by JS Bach, Buxtehude and Pergolesi, alongside ‘Songs of the Magi’ for oboe and Strings by Adolphus Hailstork and ‘Lyric for Strings’ by George Walker - at St James’s Piccadilly, London. To promote this concert, Philip presented a piece on BBC 2 TV about the award winning composer, George Walker, the first African American Composer to be awarded the Pülitzer Prize for his composition, ‘Lilacs’, in 1996.
In 1998, Philip conducted a research trip that took him to the USA, to visit the St Louis Orchestra, Chicago Center for Black Music, Indiana Bloomington University’s Music department - to see the African American Archives for Music: then finally Schomburg Music Center for Research in Black Culture. It was through this trip, that his awareness of the need to promote the hidden repertoire, written by Black Composers of classical music.

In February 1999, he wrote ‘Elegy: in memoriam - Stephen Lawrence, as a gesture of empathy, after watching media footage of this high profile murder case. This piece was premiered at the first annual memorial lecture of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, in September 2000: which was given by HRH Prince Charles. 

In 2005 he devised ‘Lost Chords: Unsung Songs’ which was a recital featuring the music of composers linked to the Harlem Renaissance. The recital programme included art songs, music for violin and piano as well as piano solos. The composers featured in this programme included William Grant Still, Margaret Bonds, Florence Price, Julia Perry, Betty Jackson King and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The project was selected to be in the final round of the Arts Council’s Decibel programme, in Birmingham 2006. In 2007, ‘Lost Chords Unsung Songs’ toured venues across the UK and finished in the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre. To promote this project, it was featured on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, March 2007, where there was an opportunity to talk about the music, as well as perform some it live in the studio. In September 2007, Philip was contributing expert to BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Trumpet Shall Sound’, presented by Julian Joseph (British Jazz Pianist, Bandleader, Composer and Broadcaster): speaking about Black composers and their contribution through history. He was also invited by Prof. David Dabydeen and Dr. John Gilmore at University of Warwick (of the Caribbean Studies Department) to be a contributing writer to the Oxford University Press, Oxford Companion to Black British History, writing about Black Composers and their creative contributions across a historic timeline.

In January 2008 this recital was performed as a lunchtime recital at the Open University and in October 2008 in the Southbank Centre’s foyer, on the evening when Nobel Prize for Literature Winner, Toni Morrison, was introducing her novel, ‘A Mercy’. This recital was also performed as a lunchtime concert for the Leicester International Music Festival series, during October 2008. He was commissioned by the Philharmonia Orchestra to write a Fanfare ‘Incantation: To Seasons of Promise’, to open their concert season in Leicester,  beginning in September 2008. In November 2008, Orchestra of the Swan premiered ‘A Dream of Peace for our time’ which was commissioned for Armistice Day.

After some research and development across 2010 - 2012, Philip devised an award winning project, ‘Ballare: To Dance’ which brought together, world class musicians, in a project that would celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and internationalism. This project took audiences from Leicester, Nottingham and Leeds on a musical voyage across, the African Diaspora, Cuba, Argentina, Spain, India, and Mexico, through international sound worlds associated with these countries around the globe, with some extant scores as well as two new works, including a ‘Suite for Solo Steel Pan and Strings’ and ‘Mantra for an Athlete’ which was inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This project was supported by Igniting Ambition and nurtured by Pawlet Brookes, the Artistic and Executive Director of Serendipity UK. Philip was awarded the Arts Prize by the African Caribbean Citizens Forum (Leicester), Sponsored by Leicester City Council, City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and Spinney Hill Community Meeting, October 6 2012.

In March 2013, in a panel, along with Candace Allan, Scott Stroman, chaired by Paul Gambaccini, Philip was part of a discussion entitled, ‘Invisible men’, which discussed Black Composers in the USA who despite their achievements, were treated as though they were invisible: as part of an event in the festival, …..’the rest is noise.’ In 2014, he gave a Biographical Lecture on the life of Samuel Coleridge Taylor, for an event at the Southbank Centre, as part of the London Literature Festival, October 2014, entitled ‘Reflecting on Samuel’. This was delivered appearing with, Off Canvass (wind ensemble), poet Dorothea Smartt, and Malaika Booker (award winning writer) on the same evening. In the same year, he was also commissioned by Serendipity UK to write a score for Oboe and Piano and work in collaboration with the acclaimed choreographer, Henri Ogiuke, in a dance project, called, ‘Silent Aria’. The suite for oboe and piano is in four movements and was commissioned for the 2014, Let’s Dance International Festival, in Leicester. 

In 2015, Chineke! Orchestra (Europe's first majority-Black and ethnically diverse orchestra),was formed, who in their first concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre, performed programme which included ‘Elegy: in memoriam - Stephen Lawrence.’ Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE (Founder and Artistic Director of Chineke! Orchestra) championed this piece and Chineke! Orchestra recorded it on the NMC Recording Label in an album called ‘Spark Catchers,’ in 2020. Radio Stations in the USA are playing this piece regularly for listeners, currently. This was also recorded with London Mozart Players and in 2008, it was listed in the Sunday Times as being ‘pick of the day’ on Chi-chi Nwanoku’s BBC Radio 3, Requests Programme, 20 April 2008.

In 2016, Philip was invited by Enrico Poli (Italian Film Director) to write a score for his Film, ‘The Future’. The film was awarded first prize in Visioni Italiane 2017 Festival under the Visione Aquatiche category. He was also a contributor in Serendipity UK’s film, ‘Lost Legends’, which examines Black History, in April 2017. In October 2017, the BBC Singers performed, ‘Sometimes I feel like a motherless child’, arranged for solo soprano, solo flute and wordless chorus, in a concert of works by BAME Composers who are members of BASCA (now Ivor’s Academy).  He was also a contributor to the BBC Radio 4 Programme ‘Black, White, Beethoven’, which was presented by Joseph Harker (Deputy Opinion Editor at the Guardian).

In 2019, The Sphinx Virtuosi devised a programme of music bearing the theme ‘Music for Justice’ where ‘Elegy’ was part of concert programme, that was toured across various parts of the USA between September 2019 - March 2020. In October 2019, Philip was invited to attend a performance of this programme at Carnegie Hall, by the President and Artistic Director of the Sphinx Virtuosi, Afa Dworkin. The Sphinx Virtuosi prepared a virtual performance of ‘Elegy’: in memoriam Stephen Lawrence’, for as part of their Juneteenth commemoration on 18 June 2020, which they also dedicated in remembrance of Stephen Lawrence, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others who have been taken from this world unjustly. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, performed this work in September 2020. The Houston Symphony Orchestra performed this work in October 2020 and the Capital Philharmonic New Jersey, performed this work also in October 2020. The Minnesota Orchestra performed ‘Elegy’ in February 2021 as part of a concert programme that will be streamed and also televised.

Philip was invited by Dr Philip Cashian, to contribute to the Royal Academy’s 200 pieces project, to celebrate the Bicentenary of the Royal Academy of Music in 2022.  The world premiere of a solo piece for Marimba entitled ‘KumbuKumbu’ (meaning Commemoration in Swahili) , took place on 21 May 2021. He has written an article for Serendipity Uk’s publication, which is entitled, ‘Reflections, Cultural Voices of Black British Irrepressible Resilience.’ In addition he has been invited to be part of Spitalfields’ Festival 2021, project, entitled ‘Bach Rework’d’. ‘Siren Calls: to an illusive journey’ for String Quartet, was commissioned recently, by Serendipity UK, to commemorate, Windrush Day 2021. He was also commissioned to write a movement for the Villiers String Quartet in Residence at the University of Oxford, for their Diversity and the British String Quartet Symposium, June 2021. It is entitled, ‘Solicitudo’. He was also asked to be a part of the panel to discuss music education and the String Quartet.  He completed some Research and Development, with MishMash Productions, by writing two pieces for string trio, across June - July 2021. Philip was also commissioned by Jamie Munn of the Nevis Ensemble, to write a piece in celebration of ‘Spring’ as a season. He wrote a piece called ‘Punarjanm’ which is a Hindu word, meaning ‘Rebirth.’ There are a number of projects to complete, which were postponed when the pandemic broke out. This includes a movement for String Quartet, commissioned by Dr Des Oliver, for his Jerwood Residency at the LSO, which was postponed owing to the pandemic, but being scheduled for October 2021. A recording of music for the EMI recording Label, also has been postponed, alongside projects with the BBC Singers and the BBC Concert Orchestra. Philip is also in the process of completing a sonatina for Double Bass and Piano, for the international virtuoso double bassist, Leon Bosch. Further performances of his music will be given in the USA by the Philharmonia Orchestra of Colorado Boulder University in September 2021, also in Virginia by the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra in November 2021 and also in the same month by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.