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photo by Laura Darcy
About Philip Spaeth
American composer, conductor and liturgical musician Philip Spaeth is a native of New York’s Adirondack and Greater Capital-Saratoga Region and began his musical pursuits at the age of six studying piano with beloved Sacandaga Valley musician and artist Anne Miller. His love of the piano drew him to study voice with Margaret Roosa, French horn with Patrice Malatestinic, and then studies at the Crane School of Music where he received his Bachelor of Music in Composition and a Performer’s Certificate in French horn. At Crane, Philip studied horn with John Ericson, conducting with Timothy Topolewski, and composition with David Heinick and Paul Steinberg. Philip received his Master of Music in Sacred Music at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, studying with celebrated choral conductor James Jordan, composers-conductors Tom Shelton and Steven Pilkington, voice pedagogue Christopher Arneson, and musicologists Christian Carey and Sharon Mirchandani. Philip now follows his passions through music ministry and as a composer of liturgical, choral, and chamber music.
Since 2001, Philip has held the post of Music Director at the Church of St. Peter in Saratoga Springs (NY) serving as organist, pianist, choral conductor, cantor trainer, composer, and liturgist. While at St. Peter’s, he has composed many choral and liturgical pieces including the highly regarded mass setting for the Roman Missal, Third Edition—Mass of Redeeming Love—and his Hymn for Saint Kateri, which was the winning work of the Albany Diocesan hymn contest honoring the canonization of the Algonquin-Mohawk laywoman Kateri Tekakwitha in 2012. In addition to his music ministry at St. Peter’s, Philip served as the Music Director for the 2013 Ordination to the Diaconate at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany. From 2014 to 2017, Philip was Artistic Director for Festival Celebration Choir of Albany, the ecumenical choir of New York State’s Capital Region, with whom he conducted such notable works as Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Franz Schubert’s Mass No. 2 in G Major, and the regional premiere of John Rutter’s The Gift of Life: Six Canticles of Creation. In 2015, the Festival Celebration Choir premiered Philip’s choral anthem Bless the Lord. In 2023, Philip assembled yet another ecumenical choir at St. Peter's for a service of readings and hymns entitled The Good Shepherd in Scripture and Song, bringing together singers and worshipers from a large number of churches surrounding the Saratoga region.
Outside the liturgical realm, Philip’s concert music includes a number of works for solo instruments, vocal music, and chamber music. While a student at Crane several of these pieces were featured in recitals and master classes for composers such as George Crumb, William Bolcom, Martin Bresnick, and Libby Larsen. His most recent notable pieces include his Quintet for Winds (2015), commissioned and premiered by the Capital Region ensemble Fünf, honored with a performance at the 48th International Horn Symposium in 2016; Epiclesis for trumpet, trombone and harp (2017) premiered in Schenectady in 2018 and honored with a performance at the 44th International Trumpet Guild Conference in Miami in 2019; and Adirondack Sketches: Five Mountain Dances for Adirondack traditional instruments with piano (2019), premiered in Mayfield, NY in February 2019, and for which Philip was awarded an Individual Artist Grant from Saratoga Arts. Philip’s Cumulus Reverie (2019) for flute and cello was premiered by Melanie Chirignan and Will Hayes in June 2019, and his Quintet No. 2 for Winds (2018) received its premiere in July 2019, again by Fünf.
As a dedicated music educator and collaborative pianist, Philip teaches privately in Saratoga Springs and accompanies performers with some frequency. One of his most memorable engagements was a 2016 summer workshop and performance by The Cantanti Project, an association of New York City-based soloists. He has also served as a vocal scholarship adjudicator for both the Festival Celebration Choir and Burnt Hills Oratorio Society (now known as Saratoga Voices).
Philip is a member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), American Guild of Organists (AGO), and National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM). He resides in the Sacandaga Valley with his wife, historian Maria Spaeth, and their children.
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