Philip Simmons has conducted in twenty-one countries, performing in Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony Center, the Musikverein, and the Great Halls of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory and Saint Petersburg Philharmonia. He is Artistic Director of American Music Festivals, serving as Music Director of the Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra and Resident Conductor for the Orchestra of the Hawaiian Islands.
Conducting extensively in the former Soviet Union, he was Associate Conductor of the Orchestra of the Hermitage Theater and Principal Guest Conductor of the Sochi Symphony Orchestra. In 1999 he conducted the Russian State Symphony in a concert broadcast nationally, and on July 4, 2004 Mr. Simmons guest conducted a sold-out American program with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. In May 2012 he conducted the fully staged premiere of “West Side Story” with the State Musical Theater of Belarus, as a guest of the US Embassy in Minsk.
Mr. Simmons led the Sarajevo Philharmonic in the National Theater of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2009. In collaboration with Chicago Sister Cities International he directed the President’s Orchestra (Moscow, 2001), Dvorak Chamber Orchestra (Prague, 2006), and St. George Strings (Belgrade, 2006). He has guest conducted throughout the Czech Republic, performing with the South Bohemia Chamber Philharmonic, Hradec Kralove Philharmonic, Prague Collegium Orchestra, and West Bohemia Symphony (1995 and 2017). Other international orchestras he has conducted include the Varna Chamber Orchestra, Slovak State Philharmonic, Haifa Symphony, Thüringen Philharmonic, and Ensemble Orchestra Sendai.
Mr. Simmons founded the Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra in 1990. The LCO partners with civic, cultural, educational, and presenting organizations to facilitate concerts and programs of cultural exchange promoting diversity throughout Chicago. Recent activities include the four concert “2017-18 International Cultural Exchange Festival in Chicago” (with Chicago Chopin Society), annual Chinese New Year concerts, and concert collaboration with the Baha’i House of Worship Choir. In 2016 the orchestra was featured on the “Sir Georg Solti Memorial Festival” alongside Grammy Award winners Chicago Pro Musica and many musicians appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Maestro Solti. The LCO has appeared at Chicago’s Harris Theater, the Chicago Cultural Center, the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Lutkin Hall (Northwestern University), and the American Islamic College in Chicago.
Previous conducting positions include Music Director of the Lake Shore Symphony (1994-2001), the Glenview Symphony, and the Russian-American Chamber Orchestra of Chicago. As an educator he served as Orchestra Director at Northeastern Illinois University and Lake Forest Academy and has conducted the Chicago Youth Symphony. Other US orchestras Mr. Simmons has performed with include the Skokie Valley Symphony, Waukegan Symphony, La Porte Symphony (IN), Perrysburg Symphony (OH), Missouri Symphony, and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. A Hawaii resident since 2009, Mr. Simmons and American Music Festivals founded the Orchestra of the Hawaiian Islands, which has given concerts and educational programs in Oahu and on the Big Island, and is currently working on cultural exchange projects throughout the Far East and Pacific Rim.
Mr. Simmons has appeared with William Warfield, Lukas Foss, the Three Russian Tenors, Radoslav Kvapil, Anya Makarova, Philippe Muller, Albert Igolnikov, John Bruce Yeh, Charles Pikler, David Schrader, Denis Azabagic, Wendy Warner, Rachel Barton Pine, Jaroslaw Golembiowski, Danny Akaka, Jr., Van Gilmer, and the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. He conducted many silent film scores on the Chicago Silent Summer Film Festival. And among his recordings are “Impressions of Saint Petersburg” (dedicated to Maestro Yuri Temirkanov, 2000), music of Alexander Tcherepnin (2003), and the soundtrack to the award-winning short film “Moonlight” (2013).
Mr. Simmons received his master’s degree in Music Composition from DePaul University. In 1989 he attended the conducting seminar at Tanglewood, the last year it was coached by Leonard Bernstein. His teachers include Gustav Meier, Jorma Panula, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Alexander Polishuk, Yuri Siminov, Otto-Werner Mueller, Elizabeth Green, Michael Morgan, and Benjamin Zander. A classical guitarist, Mr. Simmons has performed as soloist with every orchestra under his direction, as well as with the Civic Chamber Ensemble (Chicago), DePaul University Wind Ensemble, and the North Shore Chamber Orchestra. For a season he hosted ‘Meet the Maestro,” a monthly program on Glenview (IL) Cable Television and served as Chair of the Wilmette (IL) Fine Arts Commission from 2006-2009. Currently he accompanies his 7-year old daughter Penelope, their duo performs Disney songs, popular standards, children’s music, ballet, and hula.