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Phillip Wilcher : Represented Artist

Random Audio Sample: Five nocturnes for piano left hand (solo piano - 1 hand) by Phillip Wilcher, from the CD Voice of Love

Photo of Phillip Wilcher

Photo: Bridget Elliot

Phillip Wilcher was born in Sydney, New South Wales, on 16 March 1958. He commenced piano studies at an early age and wrote his first piano composition, Daybreak, at age 14. Under the editorship of the late Dr. Franz Holford, Daybreak was published by J. Albert & Sons Pty Ltd, making Wilcher the youngest published composer in Australia at that time. This piece has been recorded by John Martin on a CD titled Ancient Rivers, released by Publications by Wirripang.

Wilcher's principal teachers include Franz Holford, Neta Maughan and Elpis Liossatos. Informally, he has also received guidance from Miriam Hyde and the late Dulcie Holland.

One of the many highlights during his years of study with was a meeting with Fernando Germani who was organist of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome during the reign of Pope Pius X11. Germani was visiting with Holford at his home in the Sydney suburb of Hunters Hill where the young Wilcher played for him Chopin's Mazurka in Bb minor, Op. 24 No. 4. At the end of his performance, Germani was so moved by what he had heard he shed a tear.

The majority of Wilcher's compositions are written, and instrumental solos with piano accompaniment. His work encompasses a broad stylistic range from Romantic to Impressionistic to Contemporary while many of his compositions are inspired by folk music of other cultures. He consistently creates unique and atmospheric pieces. In his more expansive compositions he exhibits a strong structural sense, maturity and innovation all within a unique stylistic framework. He has composed music for all levels of difficulty, ranging from educational music for young children to pieces of supreme intricacy and difficulty.

Wilcher's piano music has featured on numerous recordings released by Wirripang played by Jeanell Carrigan, while Ballade has been included on the ABC Classics CD Felix and Me. Oboist Rachel Tolmie has also recorded much of Wilcher's oboe music with pianist John Martin. Other Wirripang CD releases include "Heaven-Haven", a selection chamber works performed by the Linden Quartet and "The Voice of Love" featuring cellist Mina Choe with pianist Jeanell Carrigan.

Wilcher's work is frequently broadcast by ABC-FM and 2MBS-FM. In 2001 a two-hour documentary devoted to his work was broadcast on 2MBS-FM and in 2006, Jan Brown presented a half hour documentary program on his music called Wilcher's World.

In 1994 and 1995 he received a Gold and Platinum ARIA Award from Phonogram and EMI in recognition for his work in children's music as a founding member of The Wiggles.

The late Emeritus Professor, Sir Frank Callaway, wrote of Wilcher's piano music:

".. his wide range of imaginative compositions display a fine understanding of keyboard writing. I believe Wilcher's piano music constitutes an important and welcome addition to the repertoire of Australian music."

Recently, Wilcher has turned to the written word as a means of expression, with the publication of several books by Wirripang including his autobiography "Thinking Allowed" which was first published in 2016 soon to be followed by "Divinity" in which Wilcher personified Music and held conversation with it in an attempt to determine what it was that Music itself had taught about Life and how best one should live it.

Wilcher: " I took everything that was taught me about Music by teachers and mentors far greater than myself, and held it with reverence in my heart as one would place a white dove in a gilded cage. I cared for my dove. I observed its every movement. I studied the incline of its neck as it tucked its head snuggly underwing so as not to face the fall of night. I measured the expanse of spirit sails; the fluttering of silver feathers. I listened to the intonation and inflection of its song. Once my learning was complete, I opened the cage door and I set my white dove free. I watched it soar. Would it come back to me? It was not long before my white dove returned. No longer white, it was splashed with the colours of every rainbow through which it had flown. It came back to me, this beautiful thing, so quickened with the breath of life to make its song my own." Telling words which were later to serve as a healing power for Wilcher following two dramatic incidents, the first of which occurred in 1997 when on October 11th, 1997 at 39 years of age, Wilcher was admitted to Concord Repatriation Hospital after a five day history of progressively altered behaviour and accelerated speech patterns following an interview he had done with Di Borrell for Aussie Post Magazine titled "To Shy To Wiggle" - the diagnosis for which was mania - and the second on May 11th, 2003, when Wilcher was assaulted by three youths to within seconds of his life.

Closest to Wilcher's own heart are the three volumes of writings collectively titled "Heart Matters" in which he addresses the concerns of Life and Love in light of Spirit, to embrace Music as his primary source of education. Published by Wirripang, they represent a side of Wilcher he can only hope his music reflects.

"Wilcher's words are as his music, thoughtful but never contrived, sensitive but never overwrought, introspective but never narrow. There is one difference Wilcher recognises, though: "It is quieter composing words than it is writing music." (Samuel Bugeja, "Lot's Wife Magazine", Monash University)

In 2020, Wilcher was commissioned by Kim Radock to write a piano piece in memory of his mother, pianist Shirley Paton. The piece, titled "When eyes first saw, thy beauty was as this ..." was published by Wirripang. Subsequent to the commission and under the auspices of the Music Teacher's Association of Australia (MTA) the "Shirley Paton Memorial Scholarship" was founded, one criteria of the scholarship being that any pianist entering the competition is obliged to play Wilcher's piece.

In 2022, Wilcher was awarded″ Third Prize for his composition, Rhapsody To The Memory of Richard Addinsell, in the 7th Vienna International Music Competition, conferred by the Franz Schubert Conservatorium.

Phillip Wilcher — current to July 2022

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample Two nocturnes : for French horn and piano (2007) Commissioned by Normanhurst Boys High School
Sheltered love : for piano solo (2006) Commissioned by the Liberace Society of America, and first performed by David Lomascola
Warlords (quartets: 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba) (2003) Commissioned for Fellowship of Australian Composers Brass Music CD Project.
Nativity (unspecified voice with chamber ensemble) (1999) Commissioned by Grevillea Ensemble.
Tarantella : piano solo (1998) Commissioned by Luis Grimaldi.
Digital sheet music sample Banderillero (solo piano) (1997) Commissioned by Tamara Anna Cislowska.