Philip Mann sits down with Clint Barrick on the Front Row this week to discuss his move to Texas Tech and the upcoming season for the University’s orchestra.
Tell us about who you are and your journey to Texas Tech.
It’s hard to describe my story without sounding a little bit like a vagabond. I was born in Indiana near the famous music school in Bloomington where my family has lots of ties and continues to have lots of ties there. I great up in Colorado on a ranch. I studied as a violinist and later as a pianist and bassoonist. Eventually after dabbling in things like engineering and physics and politics, ended up going into conducting.
It’s taken me all over the world. I’ve studied in lots of different countries and performed in lots of different countries in Europe, Australia, Asia, across the United States and worked with orchestras across the U.S. for places like San Diego and Indianapolis. But my most recent position has been as music director for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra where I’ve been there for seven and a half years. I’m very proud of what we accomplished there. It’s become an international success story.
What interested you about Texas Tech?
I’ve known about Texas Tech for a long time because my mother…she’s actually taught here, numerous summers in the past. That has lead to lots of stories about fun summers with friends and faculty. When the position opened up here, with evangelical zeal, I might say, lots of people reached out to me and they said, “please take a look at this and we’d love to have you,” —someone like me. So I followed up on it. I’ve loved the experience. I came out here and conducted the orchestra.
Working with the students is inspiring and invigorating, but the thing that really sold me on the potential and the possibilities of the position was this amazing faculty.
What’s on the program for tonight’s concert?
This is an exciting program that is the result of programming a year ago, before my time. That’s because it’s the result of a competition that spans the all four divisions of the school of music on the instrumental studies side. We have a concerto competition every year where young outstanding students get a chance to offer solo work, which would be accompanied by an orchestra in competitive fashion. And those people that rise to the top and win their division are offered a very special opportunity to step out in front of their colleagues—we actually call it a step-out in our business—to stand in front and be featured as a soloist. In this case, we have a pianist, a violinist, a percussionist and a wind-player playing saxophone.
Listen to the full interview, including interviews with two graduate students of Philip Mann’s, at the top.