Described by the Boston Globe as “one of the world’s most remarkable singers,” American tenor Nicholas Phan is increasingly recognized as an artist of distinction. Praised for his keen intelligence, captivating stage presence and natural musicianship, he performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies. Also an avid recitalist, in 2010 he co-founded the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC) to promote art song and vocal chamber music, where he serves as artistic director.
Phan launches the 20 / 21 season in Chicago, curating and performing in CAIC’s ninth annual Collaborative Works Festival. This year’s festival, “The Women,” commemorates the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. Featuring exclusively the works of women composers, the festival will spotlight music spanning over four and a half centuries, shedding light on the long history of musical pioneers who have been overlooked due to centuries of sexism. With many planned performances canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Phan will be participating in online initiatives throughout the fall season, including virtual appearances with Philharmonia Baroque and the California Symphony. He also will be the virtual artist-in-residence at University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music in the Fall of 2020. He remains active at his blog, Grecchinois, where he writes on a variety of topics underlining classical music’s relevance to the world of today. Planned performance highlights of his 2021 calendar include his debuts with the Seattle Symphony and the Gulbenkian Foundation, as well as returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with Michael Tilson Thomas and the Houston Grand Opera for Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves.
A celebrated recording artist, Phan’s most recent album, Clairières, a recording of songs by Lili and Nadia Boulanger, was released in January 2020 to international critical acclaim. His album, Gods and Monsters, was nominated for the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo Album. His other previous solo albums Illuminations, A Painted Tale, Still Fall the Rain and Winter Words, made many “best of” lists, including those of the New York Times, New Yorker, Chicago Tribune, WQXR, and the Boston Globe. Phan’s growing discography also includes a Grammy-nominated recording of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony, Berlioz’ Roméo et Juliette with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, Scarlatti’s La gloria di primavera and Handel’s Joseph and his Brethren with Philharmonia Baroque, an album of Bach’s secular cantatas with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan, Bach’s St. John Passion (in which he sings both the Evangelist and the tenor arias) with Apollo’s Fire, and the world premiere recordings of two orchestral song cycles: The Old Burying Ground by Evan Chambers and Elliott Carter’s A Sunbeam’s Architecture.
Sought after as a curator and programmer, in addition to his work as artistic director of CAIC, Phan has also created programs for broadcast on WFMT and WQXR, and served as guest curator for projects with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Laguna Beach Music Festival, Apollo’s Fire, and San Francisco Performances, where he served as the vocal artist-in-residence from 2014-2018. Praised by the Chicago Classical Review as “the kind of thoughtful, intelligent programming that should be a model,” Phan’s programs often examine themes of identity, highlight unfairly underrepresented voices from history, and strive to underline the relevance of music from all periods to the currents of the present day.
Phan has appeared with many of the leading orchestras in the world, including the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, London Symphony, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, New World Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque, Boston Baroque, Bach Collegium Japan, Les Violons du Roy, Orchestre de la Suisse-Romande, BBC Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, Strasbourg Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra of London, Israel Philharmonic and the Lucerne Symphony. He has toured extensively throughout the major concert halls of Europe and has appeared with the Oregon Bach, Ravinia, Marlboro, Edinburgh, Rheingau, Saint-Denis, and Tanglewood festivals, as well as the BBC Proms. Among the conductors he has worked with are Marin Alsop, Harry Bicket, Herbert Blomstedt, Pierre Boulez, Karina Canellakis, James Conlon, Alan Curtis, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, James Gaffigan, Alan Gilbert, Jane Glover, Matthew Halls, Manfred Honeck, Bernard Labadie, Louis Langrée, Cristian Măcelaru, Nicholas McGegan, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, John Nelson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Helmuth Rilling, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Masaaki Suzuki, Michael Tilson Thomas, Bramwell Tovey and Franz Welser-Möst.
An avid proponent of vocal chamber music, he has collaborated with many chamber musicians, including pianists Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Jeremy Denk, Graham Johnson, Roger Vignoles, Inon Barnatan, Myra Huang and Alessio Bax; violinist James Ehnes; the Jasper and Telegraph string quartets; Brooklyn Rider; guitarist Eliot Fisk; harpist Sivan Magen; and horn players Jennifer Montone, Radovan Vlatkovic and Gail Williams. In both recital and chamber concerts, he has been presented by Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, Boston’s Celebrity Series, and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
Phan’s many opera credits include appearances with the Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Chicago Opera Theater, Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, Glyndebourne Opera, Maggio Musicale in Florence, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, and Frankfurt Opera. His growing repertoire includes the title roles in Bernstein’s Candide, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Handel’s Acis and Galatea, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Fenton in Falstaff, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and Lurcanio in Ariodante.
A graduate of the University of Michigan, Phan is the 2012 recipient of the Paul C Boylan Distinguished Alumni Award and the 2018 Christopher Kendall Award. He also studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the Aspen Music Festival and School, and is an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio. He was the recipient of a 2006 Sullivan Foundation Award and 2004 Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation.