Saturday, July 13, 2013 11:30 PM
Through four decades of professional activity, keyboardist-composer Philip Orr has sought to encompass the musical universe, creating music that people love to listen to and love to perform, while encouraging and equipping others to do the same. His extensive performance career has largely centered on his work as piano, organ and/or synthesizer soloist and collaborator in concert halls, nightclubs, pit orchestras, organ lofts and recording studios at home and abroad, with occasional forays as trumpet, flugelhorn and mellophone soloist, Baroque recorder soloist/ensemblist, and baritone chorister; he has been a featured performer on two LP and eight CD recordings. He toured as accompanist for popular singing icons Vic Damone and Sandler & Young and for singer-songwriter Diane Scanlon in the 1970s; he also gigged with jazz notables Art Davis, Dennis Mackrel, Linc Chamberland, Billy Drewes and many others from the 70s to the present. In an odd but wonderful retooling in the mid-90s he became a choral singer in performances of major works with NY, LA, NJ and Philadelphia orchestras at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Philadelphia Academy of Music. In 1998 he resumed and augmented his jazz activities, additionally appearing as a concert and recital pianist in performances that draw audiences into his love and knowledge of the still-evolving jazz styles born in the 20th century. According to conductor, clarinetist and musicologist Jerry Rife, “It’s very exciting to hear him perform and Phil attracts musicians and listeners of all ages and musical experience. He’s a first rate, phenomenal musician and one of the best jazz pianists I know.”
An eclectic composer, Orr is the recipient of a NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowship and four ASCAPlus awards for his sacred and secular choral works; their frequent performances have also been occasionally recorded, both domestically and internationally. In addition, Orr composes art songs, jazz heads and hymn tunes; a partial setting of the Holy Eucharist appears in the Episcopal Church USA’s hymnal supplement, Wonder, Love and Praise. Reflecting years of involvement with children in theater, dance and choirs, his underscoring and incidental music for two discs of children’s narratives by veteran storyteller, Ray Gray, is unique in its scope and a source of particular pride.
Orr has nurtured and conducted ad hoc instrumental ensembles and extant choirs of all ages, sizes and abilities for most of 35 years, studying formally with maestros James Jordan, Andrew Megill and Joseph Flummerfelt. A member of the music faculty at Westminster College of the Arts of Rider University and formerly of The Lawrenceville School, he has taught the art and craft of music to both avocational and budding professional musicians in studio and class environments in the areas of music appreciation, music theory, music history, sight singing and piano.
Updated 07/13



“The idea of complete, capital ‘M’ Musicianship has motivated me personally and professionally from childhood. Listening by the hour to LPs/45s/78s, AM radio and Big 3 Broadcast TV live performances in the 50s & 60s, I became aware of performers, conductors, composers and (thanks to Leonard Bernstein) music educators, imagining myself to be each and all of them. These four areas, pursued essentially equally in various guises over 40 years, perpetually converse in my head, inspiring new ideas and deeper insight. I continue my pursuit for the passion and riches it still bestows and the opportunities for sharing it with just the absolutely best people, audiences and musicians alike.”