Philip Ewell began playing cello at the age of nine in his hometown of DeKalb, Illinois. After beginning his undergraduate degree in physics, he switched his focus to his true love, music. His BA in Music is from Stanford University, where he studied with David Rakowski, Ross Bauer, and Leonard Ratner. He then went to Queens College (CUNY)–where he studied cello with Barbara Stein Mallow and music theory with Carl Schachter–for an MA in cello performance. Philip has a certificate in cello performance from the St. Petersburg (Russia) Conservatory and a PhD in music theory from Yale University, where he wrote a dissertation on Alexander Scriabin under Allen Forte. He also studied music theory, as a visiting student, with Yuri Kholopov at the Moscow Conservatory.
Philip’s specialties include Russian music and music theory, twentieth-century music and modal theory, and rap and hiphop music. He has writings published in Music Theory Online, Music and Politics, Journal of Schenkerian Studies, and Popular Music, among other journals. He was the founding editor of Gamut, the online journal of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic, and served as the chair of the Committee on Diversity of the Society for Music Theory from 2007 to 2010. In addition to his North American appearances, Philip has given papers at international conferences in Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
His recent research focuses on Russian interpretations of modernist composers such as Stravinsky and Webern. Specifically, he has worked on the modal theories of Sergei Protopopov and Boleslav Yavorsky, whose work is widespread in Russia and can be applied to many different types of late-romantic and post-tonal tertian music. Philip has also worked with the voluminous writings of brother and sister Yuri Kholopov and Valentina Kholopova, and has presented their work at conferences and in English translation.
An active cellist and chamber musician, Philip is at home as both a classical and a contemporary musician, playing either his acoustic or his 5-string electric cello. He has concertized in North America, Europe, and Asia, and has played under the baton of such luminaries as Gustav Meier and Pierre Boulez, in master classes for Janos Starker and Glenn Dicterow, and in backup bands for artists such as Johnny Mathis and Stan Getz. His primary cello teachers were Stephen Harrison, Frederick Zlotkin, Barbara Mallow, and Anatoly Nikitine. Philip began an appointment as Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Hunter College CUNY in the fall of 2009, and in the spring of 2010 he began a joint appointment with the CUNY Graduate Center.