Leamington Music event director to retire after 109th festival next month

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Richard Phillips MBE has been involved in music and operatic events since the 1960s.

Leamington Music director Richard Phillips MBE will retire after what will be the 109th festival event he has either created or directed in May.

Richard, 83, who was awarded the MBE for his services to music and the arts in 2016, was born in Northgate, Warwick, in the 1940s and has lived in the town for most of his life – his parents being Leamingtonians.

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Educated at Emscote Lawn, Dunchurch Winton Hall School, Oundle School and Oxford University where he studied modern history, he was a teacher in Lausanne, Hunstanton, Busto Arsizio, Milan and Warwick in his early 20s.

Leamington Music Festival Director Richard Phillips was awarded an MBE for his services to music and the arts in the 2016. Picture supplied.Leamington Music Festival Director Richard Phillips was awarded an MBE for his services to music and the arts in the 2016. Picture supplied.
Leamington Music Festival Director Richard Phillips was awarded an MBE for his services to music and the arts in the 2016. Picture supplied.

His first notable involvements in music and the arts was between 1966 and 1970 with the Sadler’s Wells Opera for which he worked as editorial assistant for its souvenir programme, touring publicity and editor for Sadler’s Wells Opera Magazine.

He also was the founder of The Opera Club (Friends of English National Opera) group during these years .

Between 1970 and 1980 he was involved with the Yorkshire Arts Association during which time he founded the York Early Music Festival, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the Regional Contemporary Music Circuit and the Early Music Network.

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He was also on the boards of Opera North, the Leeds International Piano Competition, the Leeds International Festival, the Ripon Cathedral Festival and the Scarborough Arts Council.

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Since the 1980s, Richard has been based in Warwick where he was a wine merchant with Northgate Wines for a time.

He founded the Midlands Early Music Forum in 1980 and has been a concert organiser for The National Trust across several regions, the artistic director of the Charlecote Park Midsummer Music Festival from 1982 to 1998, the organiser then festival director for Warwick Arts Society from 1983 to 2005 and festival director for the Stratford-upon-Avon Music Festival between 2000 and 2007.

He has been the festival director for Leamington Music from 2006 until present day.

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Leamington music was formed with the aim of maintaining the town and its surrounding district as a musical centre dedicated to promoting excellent music.

When he retires after the next Leamington Music Festival, which takes place from May 2 to 6, Richard and his wife Veronica will become Leamington Music’s honorary presidents.

Richard has said that it is fitting that this final event he is overseeing for Leamington Music has such a strong connection to Czechoslovakia.

He said: “What is needed, and retirement gives me the opportunity, is a history of Warwick Arts Society and Leamington Music which goes back to 1980 and which I must now write.

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There will in it be a full account of these happy connections between a country which I have visited nearly twenty times and of which I am so fond and just what has been achieved here.

"And how fortunate we all are to have met and listened to so many outstanding Czech and British musicians playing such glorious music.”

For more information about Leamington music and its forthcoming events visit www.leamingtonmusic.org

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