Philip is the Classical Music Writer for The Herald, Plymouth's daily paper. Each Friday (previously on Thursday) he writes a Classical Music column (see example) as part of the What's On supplement, and also includes regular reviews of local classical events. Articles also appear in the Herald's sister paper, the Western Morning News, which has a county-wide readership, along with occasional previews and reviews. Since 1996 for example, Philip has reviewed top chamber-artists, including the Endellion, Belcea and Skampa Quartets and the Nash Ensemble, pianists, Stephen Hough and Nikolai Demidenko, the Bournemouth Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestras, Welsh National and Glyndebourne Opera, and many local performers.
He has interviewed international celebrities like Vladimir Ashkenazy, cellist, Julian Lloyd Webber, and violinist, Tasmin Little, which received one of the highest number of 'hits' at the former What's On South West site, and has also reviewed a number of 'cross-over' artists like Russell Watson, Katherine Jenkins, and the Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band.
Philip's reviews appear first online at SouthWestShows, an exciting entertainment showcase for the South West, set up by Paul Atkins, former Editor of What's On South West, which posted Philip's concert reviews, 'Classical Roundups', and Reviews Of The Classical Year from 2007 to 2010. Philip's latest Classical Columns and regular reviews also appear on The Herald's own website, This is Plymouth. Top artists, like cellist, Julian Lloyd Webber, have included Philip's reviews on their websites, as well as a number of leading UK agents like Askonas Holt.
Reviews also appear on Seen and Heard International, MusicWeb International's prestigious live-review section, whenever this involves artists of national or international reputation. These are always in greater depth, as they are not subject to any space restrictions.
You can read below what other artists have written about Philip's reviews - and occasionally Herald readers too!
Click any image to enlarge
Musician & Music Writer
Ailish Tynan (soprano) with Iain Burnside (piano)
University of Plymouth Sherwell Centre - 24/03/07
Voice proves to be a superb instrument
Top Irish soprano, Ailish Tynan, who won the Rosenblatt Recital Prize in the 2003 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, and whose rendition of a set of Irish songs will be particularly remembered for a long time wrote:
'Thank you so much for the lovely review. I particularly enjoyed the bit about the leprechaun (as did my friends!)'
The Nash Ensemble of London
University of Plymouth Sherwell Centre - 28/10/06
Concert will be difficult to top
Following an outstanding recital, which even encompassed the inconvenience of a broken E-string during the opening 'Gypsy Rondo' Piano Trio of Haydn, internationally-acclaimed Norwegian violinist and leader of the Nash Ensemble, Marianne Thorsen wrote:
'Thank you also for the lovely review. That was very encouraging and appreciated by all of us!'
Judith Hall (flute) with Craig Ogden (guitar)
Sherwell United Church - 22/09/11
First-rate recital will be hard act to follow
Top flautist, Judith Hall, and classical guitarist, Craig Ogden, both originally from Australia, made a welcome city return for a delightful concert in the Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery International Lunchtime Series, temporarily held at Sherwell United Church. For their encore, which the packed audience demanded, they played my own Matilda Goes Walkabout! Judy wrote:
'You'll be glad to hear that Matilda was also a huge success in Macclesfield, and she will be heard elsewhere this week. So thank you once again!'
City Museum & Art Gallery - 23/04/09
An unforgettable finale to concert season
Eclectica! is a fabulous quartet combining the best of classical music and jazz. It keeps the first violin and cello of the string quartet, replacing viola and cello with jazz guitars. Top British violinist, Lizzie Ball, combines with the jazz virtuosity of guitarists, Pete Oxley, Nic Meier, and cellist, Bernard Gregor-Smith. Lizzie wrote:
'Thank you so so much for the wonderful review, and for plugging us as a group, it's so appreciated and very rare that people like yourself exist in this business!'
The English Concert
Great Hall, Dartington - 13/03/09
Recorder and flute highlights of fine concert
The English Concert, one of Europe's leading baroque orchestras presented a programme of music by Goldberg, Bach and Telemann, which featured the very special talents of recorder virtuoso, Pamela Thorby, and flautist, Lisa Besnosiuk. Pamela wrote:
'Thank you so much for your generous revue!' - this was also echoed by Nick Morrison, Marketing Manager for The English Concert, who wrote:
'Many thanks for sending this, on balance, rather good review!'
Carolyn Dobbin (mezzo-soprano)
University of Plymouth Sherwell Centre - 07/04/06
Magical confection left this audience utterly spellbound
Carolyn Dobbin made her first city appearance in 'Alchemy: Music, Words & Song'. This was followed in 2009 by a performance of 'We Breathe Trees', by composer-in-residence, Karen Wimhurst, with the University of Plymouth Choral Society. Carolyn returned later in the year to sing with the Ten Tors Orchestra in Tavistock. Carolyn wrote:
'It was really lovely catching up with you again too, and yes, I remember the first review you gave me as I was very chuffed about it!'
Molto Musica Ensemble with Min-Jung Kym (piano)
University of Plymouth Sherwell Centre - 05/04/08
Talented outfit left the best until last
Molto Musica Ensemble was joined by Korean pianist, Min-Jung Kym, (read Philip's interview) in a programme to include Mozart's Quintet for Piano and Winds and Schubert's Trout Quintet. Philip subsequently was invited to write the programme notes for Min-Jung's Wigmore Hall Recital with French violinist, Pierre Amoyal.
Molto Musica Ensemble and Min-Jung's agent, Karen Howes, wrote:
'Many thanks for sending me the review - you have been very generous in your praise. Min-Jung is also very pleased with the interview - how you found the time I don't know!'
Colin Walsh (organ)
St Andrew's Church, Plymouth - 07/05/08
Laureate well deserves his title
Colin Walsh is Organist Laureate of Lincoln Cathedral, and has given a number of recitals in Plymouth's St Andrew's Church, On this occasion he played a wonderfully varied programme, from Jessel's Parade of the Tin Soldiers to works by Mozart, Bach, and Lefébure-Wély, well and truly putting the organ through its paces! Colin wrote:
'I enjoyed my visit to Plymouth, as ever, and thank you for sending me on your very generous review in The Herald. Hope to be down there again before too long!'
Alison Stephens (mandolin) with Steven Devine (piano)
Sherwell United Church - 21/02/08
How to get the most out of a mandolin
Alison Stephens (1970-2010) was arguably the leading exponent of the mandolin in the UK and, after graduating from Trinity College of Music, was appointed its first teacher for the instrument. Alison has an extensive discography, and performed world-wide, both as a soloist, and together in a number of varied ensembles. On this occasion, she was joined by fortepiano and piano specialist, Steven Devine. Alison wrote:
'Thanks for such a lovely positive review and your continuing support for what I do - it is really lovely to know I have people like you on my side!'
Ten Tors Orchestra
Theatre 1, Roland Levinsky Building, University of Plymouth - 12/02/11
Simon Ible conducted the Ten Tors Orchestra in the main event of the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival 2011, which featured 'Mind Pieces', for full orchestra, percussion and prepared piano, by Eduardo Reck Miranda, Professor in Computer Music in the School of Humanities and Performing Arts at the University. Simon wrote:
'Eduardo was very apppreciative of your talking to him following the performance of Mind Pieces on Saturday. Thanks for the review - it was good to see you there enjoying the new music - well, most of it anyway!'
Welsh National Opera: Magic Flute - Eugene Onegin - Falstaff
Theatre Royal - 15/04/08 to 19/04/08
Inspired Magic Flute is pitched just right
Welsh National Opera, and Glyndebourne on Tour regularly include Plymouth's Theatre Royal in one of their annual tours, usually bringing up to three different productions on each occasion. Philip reviews all their performances, as well as other visiting companies like the Russian State Operas of Rostov, and Siberia.
Following their 2008 tour, WNO Senior Press Officer, Daryl Jenner wrote:
'It was good to meet you too - I am glad you enjoyed the season and thanks for the reviews. We'll be back next year and hopefully I'll get to do the Plymouth week again!'
Ruby Hughes (soprano) with the Ten Tors Orchestra
Roland Levinsky Theatre, Plymouth - 20/09/08
Ruby was the jewel in the crown
Superb young soprano, Ruby Hughes, shared the platform in a delightful evening of music devoted to the music of Handel. She was joined by top oboist, Andrew Knights, and the Ten Tors Orchestra under the baton of Simon Ible, in a varied programme of vocal and instrumental works. Ruby wrote:
'Lovely to hear from you, Philip, and thank you for the glowing review! Simon was a real pleasure to work with, and the audience were also so very warm and responsive.'
Philharmonia Orchestra with Boris Berezovsky (piano)
Plymouth Pavilions - 04/10/08
Inspired 'Finnish' at great concert
Making its third annual visit to Plymouth, the Philharmonia presented a superb programme, featuring Russian virtuoso, Boris Berezovsky, in Brahms's First Piano Concerto, and Sibelius's Second Symphony, in a stunning performance conducted by Leif Segerstam. James Williams, Philhamonia Director, Residencies and Regional Concerts, wrote:
'Your review certainly captures the evening perfectly and I know that our orchestra members always enjoying coming to Plymouth to receive such a warm reception from the audience here!'
Devon Baroque: A Night at the Opera
St Andrew's Church, Plymouth - 12/04/08
Getting a Handel on great talent
Devon Baroque is a superb locally-based ensemble, specialising in authentic performances using contemporary instruments and playing- practices, under the expert direction of internationally-acclaimed violinist, Margaret Faultless. Former Devon Baroque chairman, Anne-Marie Scott-Masson wrote:
'It was great to see you again at St Andrew's.Thank you for a super review - most generous, and it will be posted on the website!'
Gould Piano Trio
University of Plymouth Sherwell Centre - 25/10/08
Chamber trio sets the Gould standard
Making its third appearance in the Plymouth Chamber Music Series, the Gould Piano Trio gave a stunning performance of Schumann's Fantasiestücke, Korngold's Piano Trio, and Brahms's B major Trio. Pianist, Benjamin Frith, with whom Philip had previously been in touch in connection with his dissertation on John Field's Piano Concertos, wrote:
'It was good to meet you in person! It was really fun being in Plymouth and the concert conditions were excellent which meant we could do our best. Thanks for the really nice review and let's keep in touch!'
Herold String Quartet
University of Plymouth Sherwell Centre - 07/02/09
Quality Czechs shine
Despite an arduous journey from Prague, during one of the UK's heaviest snowfalls for years, and the cellist breaking his C string, just bars before the end of the final piece, the outstanding Czech-based Herold String Quartet still gave a simply stunning performance! Violinist, Jan Valta wrote:
'Many thanks for your kind words after the concert and in your review, which will be on our website soon. Such support from a professional is always a big encouragement for us!'
Glyndebourne on Tour: Così fan tutte - Falstaff - Jenufa
Theatre Royal - 01/12/09 to 05/12/09
Jonathan's Falstaff - a 'partnership' made in Heaven
Due to a clash, Philip was unable to get along to Così, but the other two productions on offer more than made up for this. Philip had had the pleasure of reviewing Jonathan Veira before, when he presented his 'Audience with...' at a local city church. That was a most uplifting experience, as Philip's review showed, but Jonathan's performance in the eponymous role in Falstaff was just something else. Jonathan's wife, Sue wrote:
'So glad you enjoyed Falstaff - so much Jonathan’s role. We loved your review - thank you!'
Ten Tors Orchestra with Evelina Puzaite (piano)
Plymouth Guildhall - 14/02/09
Telling contribution to superb performance
Lithuanian pianist, Evelina Puzaite, proved the ideal soloist in Schumann's Piano Concerto, as part of a special Valentine's Day concert by the Ten Tors Orchestra, under conductor, Simon Ible. Evelina wrote:
'Thank you so much for such an inspiring review. I am glad you enjoyed the performance particularly because this was the first time I performed the concerto! It was a pleasure to work with such a wonderful orchestra. Thank you once again!'
Academy of St Martins in the Field
Great Hall, Dartington - 19/04/09
Academy creates a performance to cherish
The world-renowned ensemble, directed by Kenneth Sillito, gave a superb recital in the outstanding acoustic of the Great Hall, with an all-English programme of music for strings by Britten, Malcolm Arnold, Thea Musgrave, and Walton.
Susannah Thackray, on behalf of the orchestra, wrote:
'Many thanks for the information you have sent over the last couple of days. We're really glad you enjoyed the concert so much!'
Plymouth Philharmonic Choir & the Royal Marines' Orchestra
Plymouth Guildhall - 08/03/09
Superb collaboration that city should be proud of
The leading city choir of some 150 voices joined forces with the Orchestra of the Royal Marines, Plymouth, for a special charity concert in aid of Combat Stress. The packed audience enjoyed Rutter's Requiem, and The Armed Man by Karl Jenkins. Choir committee member, Virginia Morgan Evans wrote:
'Thank you for the lovely piece you wrote for last Thursday’s paper. It was much appreciated by everyone. Your support and also your impartial criticism mean a lot to us!'
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Great Hall, Dartington - 24/09/09
University Don sure can sing
The world-renowned ensemble, directed by violinist, Matthew Truscott and Steven Devine (harpsichord), presented a tremendous all-Handel recital, where they were joined by internationally-acclaimed British tenor, Ian Bostridge. Katy Bell, on behalf of the orchestra, wrote:
'I will pass on your comments to the orchestra and circulate the review. I heard them play the same programme with Ian Bostridge at Kings Place in London last Saturday and it was wonderful!'
Rebekka Hartmann (violin) & Caroline Bergius (harpsichord)
St Lalluwy Church, Menheniot - 17/09/11
Panache in a first-class recital
Top German violinist, Rebekka Hartmann, with harpischordist, Caroline Bergius, thrilled a delightful packed Cornish village church with a recital of music by Corelli, Handel, Ysayë and Bach. Rebekka wrote:
'It was so very nice to meet you! That evening was just fabulous!!! I hope there will be another chance to see you again and of course your wonderful father. Please send him my warmest regards!!!!!! All my very best wishes.'
Judy Carmichael (piano)
City Museum & Art Gallery - 03/12/09
Judy delights packed lunchtime audience
American Grammy-nominated jazz pianist, Judy Carmichael, is one of the world's leading exponents of stride piano and swing - in fact Count Basie even nicknamed her 'Stride' in acknowledgement. Judy turned the normally more sedate Museum & Art Gallery into a buzzing jazz club, and was literally besieged at the end by those wanting to snap up her signed CDs! Judy wrote:
'Thank you again for this wonderful review and for taking the time to come to my concert.'
Maggini String Quartet
University of Plymouth Sherwell Centre - 14/11/09
Gifted quartet's triumph in city
The Maggini Quartet was formed in 1998, and is currently one of the finest British quartets around. They have now appeared three times in the Plymouth Chamber Music Trust Series - on the third occasion, they were led by violinist, Gina McCormack, herself no stranger to the series, where she'd previously played with the now-disbanded Sorrel Quartet. Always in great demand, Gina just had time to write:
'Yes, great review - many thanks!'
London Mozart Players
Great Hall, Dartington - 11/04/10
Dynamic contrasts strike the right chord
Leading UK chamber orchestra, the London Mozart Players, thrilled a packed audience with a delightful programme, exactly right for a glorious spring afternoon. Husband-and-wife piano duo, York2 joined the players in Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos, and The Carnival of the Animals, where local poet, Matt Harvey's readings of Roger McGough's poems were an undoubted highlight. Pianist, John York wrote:
'A good review indeed it is!' whilst Matt Harvey commented, 'Many thanks for your kind words.'
Finzi String Quartet
University of Plymouth Sherwell Centre - 17/04/10
Ash cloud has silver lining as grounded girls ably plug gap
The Wihan String Quartet should have given the final concert in the Plymouth Chamber Music Trust series but, due to the unprecedented cloud of volcanic ash covering the UK, were marooned in Prague, and their place had to be taken by the Finzi Quartet, who themselves should have been in Madrid. Cellist, Lydia Shelley, wrote:
'Thank you so much for your kind words, and for the wonderful programme notes at such short notice!'
Glyndebourne on Tour: Don Giovanni - La Cenerentola - L'Incoronazione di Poppea
Theatre Royal - 23/11/10 to 27/11/10
Stupendous production is amongst best yet
Although there was another clash with Plymouth Symphony Orchestra's Guildhall concert, this year Philip decided to review all three operas - and what a great move that turned out to be! Don Giovanni was one of the best he'd even seen, Rossini's Cenerentola proved even better, with Jonathan Veira once more distinguishing himself amongst the cast. Glyndebourne Press & PR Manager, Emma Menniss wrote:
'Thank you so much for your coverage of the Tour. Our week in Plymouth was a great success!'
'Shadows of Romania' Music Festival
University of Plymouth - 19/11/10 to 21/11/10
Pianist's opener is powerful stuff
This three-day Festival began with a piano recital by Anda Anastasescu, followed by a performance by the Ten Tors Orchestra which featured Umbre, by leading contemporary Romanian composer, Doina Rotaru. The final concert was given by members of the Arnold Camerata, and included works by George Enescu. Romanian Cultural Institute, Director, Dorian Branea wrote:
'Thank you for taking some time to review the concerts, it means a lot to us. When you're in London, it would be great if you could visit us at the Institute.'
Review   
Dante String Quartet with Tim Boulton (viola)
Tavistock Parish Church - 31/05/10
Festival's first-rate final night
The highlight of the annual Dante Festival is usually the closing concert. This year the internationally-acclaimed Dante String Quartet was joined by leading UK violist, Tim Boulton, now living in Cornwall, who wrote:
'Many thanks Philip - much appreciated!'
Dante Quartet leader, Krysia Osostowicz, also commented:
'Thanks so much not only for a lovely review, but for your loyal support of the Dante Festival! We were particularly pleased to see such nice big audiences. I'm sure your preview helped to bring people in!'
Plymouth, Saltash & Tavistock - 08/04/10 to 10/04/10
Planning pays off for young performers
The outstanding young Arnold Camerata had the blessing of Sir Malcolm Arnold's daughter, Catherine, who attended each of the three concerts comprising 'The Essentially English Chamber Music Festival', featuring her father's chamber music. Philip's extended article appears in the Malcolm Arnold Society Summer 2010 magazine. Guildhall School of Music & Drama Director of Music, Jonathan Vaughan, wrote:
'Thank you very much for your support of the event and for trying to encourage further performances.'
Julian Lloyd Webber (cello) with Pam Chowhan (piano)
The Watermark Centre, Ivybridge- 03/06/11
Memorable recital played from memory
Top UK cellist, Julian Lloyd Webber, delighted the audience with a varied and interesting recital, accompanied at the piano by Pam Chowhan. Philip interviewed Julian before the event, which you can read here. Julian wrote:
'Thanks so much for this - very generous! I agree completely about the piano - I felt sorry for Pam.Yes, let’s keep in touch! I am so glad that both you and Jeanie (Moore) are keeping the flag flying for classical music in the South West. All strength to you!'
Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano)
Great Hall, Dartington - 29/05/11
Supreme artist lit up performance full of enjoyment
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment returned to the Great Hall, Dartington, with an all-Handel progromme. The soloist was Welsh soprano, Elin Manahan Thomas, whose performance was absolutely stunning. Elin, in fact, gave her expert analysis on TV during the 2011 Cardiff Singer of the World. Elin wrote:
'Thank you so much - what a wonderful review. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert and am having a great time touring the Handel with the OAE. It was lovely to meet you and best wishes to your dad!'
Ruth Rogers (violin) with Martin Cousin (piano)
University of Plymouth Sherwell Centre - 19/01/08
Top-notch recital was up there with the best
Ruth Rogers, (read Philip's interview), described by Musical Opinion as 'one of the most gifted young British violinists', in demand as soloist, chamber-musician and orchestral leader wrote:
'Thank you so much for the wonderful review which we were thrilled with - naturally!'
Ruth has also appeared with the Iuventus Quartet, Aquinas Piano Trio, and as leader of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra - click each ensemble to read Philip's review.
The Fujita Piano Trio
University of Plymouth Sherwell Centre - 02/02/08
Magical sisters play from memory
Leading international piano trio, Japanese sisters, Arisa, Honoka and Megumi Fujita, wrote:
'Thank you very much for sending us the review of our concert on Saturday. We have sent it to our parents and they were very excited!'
Plymouth enjoys its own online Plymouth Classical Music Concert Diary - a superb free resource provided by Roger Viles, of Minim Website Design.
Plymouth Pavilions - 20/04/11
Powerful performance an inspiration
It's always really encouraging when artists take the trouble to read their reviews, and especially when they're as busy as top crossover-tenor, Russell Watson. In a recent interview with Features Writer, Martin Freeman, for The Herald (Plymouth), Russell commented:
'It will be lovely to be back in Plymouth. That was one of the most informed reviews I have ever read. It was wonderful - I put in on my website!'
Julian Lloyd Webber (cello), Peter Cigleris (clarinet), with John Lenehan (piano)
City Museum & Art Gallery - 11/10/12
Three musicians display empathy for John Ireland's music
Julian Lloyd Webber made a welcome return to the area for a special concert to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of John Ireland's death, joined by former local clarinettist, Peter Cigleris, and leading UK chamber musician, pianist John Lenehan. Referring to Philip's in-depth review at Seen and Heard International, Julian wrote:
'Thank you so much for sending these reviews. I am so happy you enjoyed the concert - I think Ireland is a seriously underrated composer. I particularly appreciated the longer review - the Machen connection is really important. Let’s keep in touch. And thank you again for flying the flag for classical music in the South West. What you are doing is VITALLY important!'