Born in Paris in 1971, Xavier Phillips began to study the cello at the age of six. Aged fifteen he entered Philippe Muller’s studio at the Conservatoire de Paris and graduated with distinction in 1989.
Xavier Philips has been a prize-winner at several competitions. He took 2nd prize and the Young Performer’s Special Award at the International Competition in Belgrade, the Special Award at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, 3rd prize and the Special Award at the Mstislav Rostropovich Competition in Paris and 1st prize at the I International Cello Competition in Helsinki (presented following a unanimous vote). The young musician’s appearance at the Mstislav Rostropovich Competition created a tremendous impression on the maestro himself. Following that meeting, Xavier Phillips began to perfect his skills under the guidance of the famed maestro.
Phillips was soon receiving invitations to perform at the world’s great concert venues with such orchestras as the Orchestre National de France, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Bavarian Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, the Berliner Symphoniker, the Houston Symphony, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Filarmonica della Scala under such eminent conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Kurt Masur, Christoph Eschenbach, James Conlon, Marek Janowski, Serge Baudo, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Ion Marin, Kazushi Ono, Jesús López-Cobos, Günther Herbig, Eliahu Inbal and Vladimir Spivakov.
In September 2001 Phillips made his acclaimed debut with the Orchestre de Paris. Following that, Mstislav Rostropovich invited him to appear in a joint performance of Prokofiev’s Sinfonia concertante with the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra that he conducted. Less than a year passed before Xavier Phillips made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme. His illustrious mentor was once again at the conductor’s stand. Following this series of successful appearances the cellist was invited to the USA for several concerts with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra under Vasily Sinaisky. In September 2006 Phillips appeared with the Orchestre de Paris at the opening of the refurbished Salle Pleyel. Critics have lavished praise on his interpretation of Dutilleux’ cello concerto Tout un Monde lointain. The composer, who was himself present at the performance, later said that “Xavier Phillips fully owns this work and evokes the very essence of its title – ‘all a distant world’”.
Engagements for the 2013–2014 and 2014–2015 seasons include a performance of Édouard Lalo’s Cello Concerto with the Orchestre de Paris under Paavo Järvi at the Salle Pleyel as well as featuring in a tour by the orchestra to China, a performance of Bloch’s rhapsody for cello and orchestra Schelomo with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under Fabien Gabel, Shostakovich’s Second Concerto with the Cité de la Musique in Paris, works by Dutilleux and Schumann with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Orchestre National de Lorraine, a concert at the Konzerthaus in Berlin with the Bavarian Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, appearances at the International Festival in Colmar and the Bogotá Festival together with pianist Igor Tchetuev and violinist Fanny Clamagirand (Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia) and a collaboration with the Florida Orchestra under Ludovic Morlot and Stefan Sanderling.
Together with Albanian violinist Tedi Papavrami and French pianist François-Frédéric Guy, Xavier Phillips plans to perform and record the complete Beethoven chamber works for piano and strings. The musician also plans to record Dutilleux’ cello concerto Tout un Monde lointain with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra under Ludovic Morlot. Xavier Phillips dedicates much of his attention to chamber music. He has worked with musicians including Shlomo Mintz, Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian, Régis Pasquier, David Grimal, Emmanuel Strosser, Vahan Mardirossian, Igor Tchetuev, Vanessa Wagnr and Romain Guyot among others.
The musician has an extensive discography and his recordings have won prizes on numerous occasions. Phillips’ discs of works by Kodály (with his brother Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian; Harmonia Mundi / Lontano), works for cello and orchestra (EMI Classics) and Sonatas of Schnittke, Shostakovich and Prokofiev (with pianist Hüseyin Sermet; Harmonia Mundi) received the Choc prize from Le Monde de la Musique magazine.
The cellist has also received the Grand Prix du Disque award for his recording of chamber music by Albéric Magnard (Auvidis Valois). The disc Armenia, dedicated to Armenian music with Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian and Vahan Mardirossian (Warner Classics), received the Choc de l’année prize in 2007.
Xavier Phillips devotes much of his time to teaching. For several years he was an assistant to Roland Pidoux at the Conservatoire National de Paris, running numerous seminars and master-classes.
Xavier Phillips plays a Matteo Goffriller cello from 1710.