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PHILIP MOREHEAD recently retired as Head of Music Staff of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Ryan Opera Center. a position he had held since 1991. His previous positions at Lyric have included Music Administrator, Chorus Master and Assistant Conductor. In recent years Mr. Morehead has been cover conductor at Lyric Opera for Die Meistersinger, Jenůfa, Der fliegende Holländer, Sweeney Todd, Billy Budd and many others. He conducted regular season performances of Die Fledermaus, Un ballo in maschera and The Mikado and the premiere production of Anthony Davis’s Amistad and student performances of La Traviata, The Cunning Little Vixen, Carmen, Die Zauberflöte and Pagliacci. In January 2015 he conducted the first edition of Lyric Unlimited’s The Magic Victrola, a program introducing young children to opera with excerpts sung by members of the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago. In addition to repertoire coaching and work in preparation of Lyric Opera and Ryan Opera Center productions, he conducted performances of Rossini’s La Cenerentola for the Center. In the summer of 2008 he conducted Il barbiere di Siviglia for the Lyrique-en-Mer Festival on Belle-Ile, France, and returned to the Festival the summer of 2011 to conduct L’elisir d’amore. During the 2010-11 season Mr. Morehead conducted performances of Un ballo in maschera (with Sondra Radvanovsky, Frank Lopardo, and Mark Delavan), The Mikado (with James Morris, Stephanie Blythe, Neal Davies, Andriana Chuchman, and Andrew Shore), and Carmen (with Katharine Goeldner and Richard Cox). He is a member of the board of the Conductors’ Guild and a member of the selection panel for the Solti Foundation U.S. awards.
When not engaged in his Lyric Opera duties Mr. Morehead is a conductor, coach, pianist, and harpsichordist. His conducting work has included Boulez’ Improvisations sur Malarmé for the Contemporary Chamber Players at The University of Chicago and Gounod’s Faust at Illinois State University. He was a founding member of CUBE, a Chicago-based chamber ensemble specializing in the performance of new music. (A list of CUBE performances and works performed can be found at www.patphil.com.) From 1987 to 2013 with the CUBE ensemble he performed as pianist in a wide variety of repertoire and conducted the ensemble in world premieres of William Ferris An Eden Garden, Sebastian Huydts Three Serious Songs, Russ Grazier Leaving, Arriving, Ilya Levinson The Tell-Tale Heart, and other works. Mr. Morehead has given vocal masterclasses in conjunction with Elgin Opera and is a member of the faculty of the Bel Canto Institute in Florence, Italy.
From 1981 to 1985 Mr. Morehead worked regularly with Tulsa Opera in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In Spring of 1983 he conducted student performances of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, and in 1984 he conducted the Tulsa Opera Spring production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, directed by David Gately and starring Karen Hunt and James Billings.
Before coming to Lyric Opera in 1981, Mr. Morehead, a native of New York City, was Coordinator of the Orchestral Training Program at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. His previous positions in Canada included the conductorship of the Bach-Elgar Choral Society in Hamilton, Ontario, where he conducted, among other works, the Sea Symphony of Ralph Vaughan Williams. In 1984 and 1985 he conducted for the Canadian Contemporary Music Workshop concerts including the Canadian premiere of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Concerto for Oboe.
Prior to 1978, Mr. Morehead lived in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was Musical Director of the New England Chamber Opera Group, for which he conducted American premieres of Busoni’s Arlecchino and Handel’s Imeneo, the world premiere of Paul Earls’ The Death of King Phillip, and other works including Stravinsky’s Mavra, Mozart’s Zaïde and Menotti’s The Medium, as well as other repertory. He was also Musical Director of the Newton Chamber Orchestra and the Brookline Symphony Orchestra. He was assistant conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, rehearsal pianist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and for seven years a member of the faculty of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. He has performed widely as pianist and harpsichordist, and played continuo with the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa, Leonard Bernstein, and Peter Maag.
Mr. Morehead was educated at Trinity School (New York), The Baylor School (Chattanooga), Swarthmore College, Harvard University, and the New England Conservatory of Music. He studied for two years in Paris and Fontainebleau with Nadia Boulanger.
In addition to his musical activities, Mr. Morehead is the editor of revised versions of the New American Roget’s College Thesaurus, The New American Webster’s Handy College Dictionary and Hoyle’s Rules of Games. He is author of The New International Dictionary of Music and the Penguin Thesaurus.