|The following biography of
Capt. Phillips, as well as the two photographs used above, were
gathered from the website
of the U.S. Navy Band.
In December 1978, Lt. Cmdr. William J. Phillips became the Navy Band's sixth leader. Phillips' legacy is two-fold; he was the first music officer to ever attain the rank of Captain, and is also the only Navy Band leader to serve two terms [1978-84 and 1992-95].
Capt. Phillips' long and distinguished career, he served the Navy Music
Program in almost every capacity. Indeed, he was the first to hold the
Navy Music Program's top four billets, including Officer in Charge of
the U.S. Navy Band; Director of the U.S. Naval Academy Band; Head of
the Bureau of Naval Personnel's Music Branch; and Commanding Officer of
the Armed Forces School of Music in Little Creek, Va.
the Phillips years, many high-profile national events involving the
Navy Band took place. The Navy Band played for the arrival of Pope John
Paul II in 1980; the return of the 52 American hostages from Iran; the
state funeral of General Omar Bradley, the last five-star general of
World War II; and the welcoming celebration of the first space shuttle
"Columbia" crew--all in 1981. Phillips was also instrumental in
providing famous guest artists to narrate the Navy Band Birthday
celebrations. Some of the most notable were Cliff Robertson and Mike
Capt. Phillips is respected as an innovative figure in Navy music. To provide appropriate training and advancement possibilities for those who may command the U.S. Navy Band, he established an advanced degree program for music officers. Capt. Phillips also serves as an ambassador of the Navy by guest lecturing and conducting musical organizations throughout the United States and Europe, including the internationally renowned Boston Pops Orchestra, and the Military Orchestra of the Guard of Honor of Moscow, Russia. His Awards include three Meritorious Service Medals, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, and others. Recognition of his abilities also comes from outside the military. He was voted a member of the American Bandmasters Association in 1981, and is a recipient of the Orpheus Award presented by the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity.
Capt. Phillips' education and training have not been strictly limited to music. In 1991, he was awarded a bachelor's degree in business administration. In his leisure time, he enjoys yacht racing, racquetball, and squash. Capt. Phillips is married to the former Priscilla Parsons of Massachusetts. They have two children, Jill and Bradford.
A few of the highlights during Phillips' tenure - first as CDR, then as CAPT:
stages highlights of operas and musicals
(Jan.) plays ceremony to welcome home 52 American hostages returning to Andrews Air Force Base following captivity in Iran
(Aug.) Country Current entertains President Reagan and Mexican President Portillo at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Md.
(Oct.) Sea Chanters debut as mixed chorus on 206th Navy Birthday Concert in The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performinig Arts Concert Hall
returns as first captain in Navy music history and only leader to serve two terms
(Sep.) performs at the International Swedish Army Tattoo in Stockholm
(Dec.) receives John Philip Sousa Foundation's Col. George S. Howard Citation of Musical Excellence for Military Concert Bands
(Mar.) receives Music Educators National Conference "Certificate of Excellence"
(May) performs in the Memphis in May "International Festival Tattoo" in Memphis, Tenn.
(Jul.) is featured in the National Independence Day Celebration on the Washington Monument grounds (seventh annual appearance for event)
(Oct.) plays for Bicentennial of the U.S. Capitol and reinstallation of the "Statue of Freedom" to the U.S. Capitol dome, with Liza Minnelli
(Jun.) performs opening ceremony for World Cup Soccer Match at R.F.K. Stadium in Washington, D.C.
(Sep.) presents Newly Published Music Workshop at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
This interview was recorded in Chicago on December 17,
transcription was made and posted on this website in 2009.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award-winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.