Born in Paris, Xavier Phillips began to study the cello at the early age of 6. By 15, he entered Philippe Muller’s studio at the CNSM in Paris and graduated with First Prize in 1989.
After these formative years, he won several international prizes (Second Prize and Special Prize at the Young Artists of Belgrade competition, Special Prize at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Third and Special Prize at the Rostropovich Competition in Paris and First Prize, awarded unanimously, at the 1st Competition of Helsinki). His participation brought him to the attention of Mstislav Rostropovich, who had been particularly taken with his playing during the Rostropovich Competition.
Their encounter proved especially fruitful since it marked the beginning of a long collaboration during which Xavier Phillips received the guidance and encouragement of the master cellist. After his debut with the Orchestre de Paris in September 2001, Mstislav Rostropovich – seeing an accomplished soloist with ever increasing maturity – invited him to play Prokofiev’s Symphonia Concertante under his baton with Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Less than a year later, still under the baton of his mentor Mstislav Rostropovich, Xavier Phillips made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme). Following these back-to-back successes in the United States, he was invited to the Seattle Symphony Orchestra for several concerts. In 2006, he performed with Orchestre de Paris for the reopening of the Salle Pleyel and was hailed for his interpretation of Henri Dutilleux’s Tout un monde lointain. The composer, who was present, said afterwards: “Xavier Phillips fully owns this work and evokes the very essence of its title – all a distant world.”
He is quickly invited to perform at international concert venues with such prestigious orchestras as Mariinsky Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Philharmonique de Radio France, Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Symphoniker, the Houston Symphony, the BBC Scottish Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and the Filarmonica della Scala and with such eminent conductors as Riccardo Muti, Kurt Masur, Christoph Eschenbach, James Conlon, Marek Janowski, Serge Baudo, Vladimir Fedosseyev, Ion Marin, Kazushi Ono, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Gunther Herbig, Eliahu Inbal, and Vladimir Spivakov.
2014/15/16 Xavier Phillips is invited by Orchestre de Paris in Lalo cello concerto and Paavo Järvi in Salle Pleyel, as well as on tour. He is the guest of Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne (Miaskovski), Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France (Shelomo by Bloch), Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec (Lalo), BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Escaich double concerto), Orquesta Sinfonica de Sevilla (Tchaikovsky). He performs at the Konzerthaus Berlin with the Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra. He is the soloist of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (Dutilleux and Schumann) and the Florida Orchestra/Ludovic Morlot and Stefan Sanderling etc. In France, he is also the soloist of Orchestre National de Lorraine (Elgar), Orchestre National d’Ile de France (Dutilleux), Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire (Chostakovitch and Dvorak), Orchestre de Chambre de Paris (Beethoven Triple), Jenaer Philharmonie (Dutilleux « Tout un monde Lointain »).
His next recording includes the complete cello/piano music by Beethoven with François-Frédéric Guy (Aparté). They perform this integral at the Printemps des Arts de Monte Carlo, Arsenal in Metz, Festival Berlioz, Festival de la Chaise-Dieu, etc.
His last recording with orchestra is Dutilleux “Tout un monde lointain” with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra under Ludovic Morlot. This recording is nominated at the Grammy Awards 2015. Xavier Phillips is himself nominated at the for a Grammy as “Instrumental Soloist of the Year”.
Xavier Phillips’s eclectic and varied discography has been acclaimed by critics; he received a “Choc” award by the magazine Le Monde de la Musique for the following recordings: Kodály (Harmonia Mundi/Lontano ) with his brother Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabedian, Works for Cello & Orchestra (Lalo, Fauré, Caplet at EMI Classics), Sonatas of Schnittke, Shostakovich and Prokofiev with the pianist Hüseyin Sermet (Harmonia Mundi), as well as the Grand Prix du Disque for Alberic Magnard’s chamber music (Auvidis Valois). The CD Armenia, devoted to Armenian music with Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian and Vahan Mardirossian (Warner Classics) obtained a “Choc of the year” in 2007.
Alongside his work as soloist, Xavier Phillips, is a dedicated teacher. Xavier Phillips has also dedicated himself to chamber music – a passion that he has shared with such artists as Schlomo Mintz, Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian, Régis Pasquier, David Grimal, Emmanuel Strosser, Vahan Mardirossian, Igor Tchetuev, Vanessa Wagner, Romain Guyot…
Xavier Phillips plays on a Matteo Gofriller cello from 1710.