Richard Phillips: A piano-playing Salvationist offers meditative Inspirations

Wednesday 13th May 2009

Tony Cummings quizzed Northamptonshire-based pianist RICHARD PHILLIPS about his life and music

Richard Phillips
Richard Phillips

Over the last few years the Christian music marketplace has seen a stream of instrumental albums variously packaged as music for meditation, quiet reflection or recently, "soaking." Quite a few of these releases have featured gifted pianists such as Keith Routledge, Tom Howard, Roger Mayor and Mark Edwards. Now a new name should be added to the list with the release by Salvationist Publishing & Supplies of a fine instrumental project, 'Inspirations', by Richard Phillips. I asked the 46 year old pianist to tell me a bit about 'Inspirations'. He responded, "It is based on memories of important moments in my life and significant music that reflects those inspirational moments. The music contained on the album can speak to all people of any race. It is absolutely my desire that this CD speak to the widest possible audience of all denominations. I really hope that it has an impact on people way beyond the confines of the Salvation Army."

Richard went on to highlight a couple of the tracks on 'Inspirations'. "The track 'Flag Of Freedom' took me back to when I was a small boy watching and listening to The Chatham Salvation Army band march back from its open-air meeting. Listening to the band and watching the flags at the front of the march influenced me greatly on the importance of music and how it was going to be a big part of my life. Another track, 'Somebody Prayed For Me' is a constant reminder that we are never alone and that through prayers from like-minded Christians there is a way back for people who have strayed from God's plan."

Richard is the conductor of The Salvation Army band at Kettering Corps who play regularly every Sunday. He is also one of three pianists who regularly play the piano at the Corps' Sunday worship. Although 'Inspirations' may be the first time Christian music CD buyers have encountered Phillips, it is not this fine pianist's first album. Richard recorded his first solo album 'Love Song' in 1992, 'There Is Music Everywhere' in 1994 and a seasonal offering, 'Christmas Presence' in 2002.

Richard grew up very much grounded in the Salvation Army. He recounted, "I joined the young people's band and junior choir and becoming a fully fledged Salvationist was a natural progression. I was enrolled as a soldier of The Salvation Army when I was 15 at the Chatham Corps in Kent. My first recollection of music making was when my father brought home a spare cornet from Chatham Salvation Army when I was four. We also had a piano at home and I used to play some one fingered tunes that my parents, both being musicians themselves, taught me."

Richard Phillips: A piano-playing Salvationist offers meditative Inspirations

Richard spoke about his musical influences: "My influences have mostly come from the songwriters rather than the classicists that I have played from all the time I have been studying music although Rachmaninov was always a favourite. Lieut-Colonel Norman Bearcroft, Eric Ball and Major Len Ballantine are three composers who have had significant impact on my composing style. Whilst each of these have their own unique style, I have taken something from all of them to create the type of composer I am."

Married to Lyn and living in Corby, Northants, for many years Richard was an employee of the Salvation Army during which time he travelled and performed in numerous countries throughout the world. He is currently teaching music at a large independent comprehensive school, the Thomas Deacon Academy in Peterborough.

When asked what spiritual lesson he was learnt in the last year or two, Richard responded, "The biggest spiritual lesson that has revealed itself to me mostly in the past few years is that we serve a forgiving and loving God. That it is us that stray from his path and not God that leaves us. I am grateful for a forgiving and loving God." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


Reader Comments

Posted by Roger Bush @ 22:32 on Oct 26 2010

I am not a Salvationist,but have in the past thought of becoming one.
Iam a commited Christian and have attended All Saints Church is Park Rd P,boro for 55 years.
Well said Richard,i think you have said it all in the last few sentences.
Trust in the Lord and he will see you through anything and remember he is always with you so you are NEVER alone. RJB.

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