The Sunday Times, London
“A star in the making…exquisitely artful…”
The New York Times
“Nicholas Phan, with his sweet, clear voice, is on a career roll.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Phan is a tenor whose renown is well-earned. His voice is supple throughout an admirably wide range, whether he is called upon to unleash stormy passions or whisper love’s most delicate shadings. His long experience performing opera showed plainly in the full spectrum of emotion and drama.”
Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise
“…he took hold of the music with unerring musicality, precise diction, and conversational command of German.”
“…he penetrated deeply into the inner drama of each of the 16 songs.”
“It’s Mr. Phan’s voice that puts him in another league, however. Trim and slight of build, he possesses a commanding, yet subtly resourceful instrument. To see this level of mastery in a young singer, particularly in the famous aria “Una furtiva lagrima” (“a furtive tear”) is to expect great things of his future.”
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. An artist with an incredibly diverse repertoire that spans nearly 500 years of music, 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 begins the 2022-23 season curating and performing in CAIC’s 11th annual Collaborative Works Festival. This year’s festival theme, The Song of Chicago, will celebrate the city’s rich and diverse musical history through song. Other highlights of the season include returns to the New York Philharmonic for the role of the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and a return to the Dallas Symphony for performances of Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise. Other symphonic returns include appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, and Boston Baroque. On the new music front, he performs two song cycles that were composed recently for him: Aaron Jay Kernis’ Earth with Santa Fe Pro Musica and Nico Muhly’s Stranger in a newly-commissioned orchestration with New Century Chamber Orchestra. He also joins the baroque ensemble Il Pomo D’Oro as Lurcanio in a tour of Handel’s Ariodante that includes stops at the Philharmonie Essen, the Palau de la Música in Barcelona, and the Théâtre Champs-Élysées in Paris.
A celebrated recording artist, Phan’s most recent album, Stranger: Works for Tenor by Nico Muhly, was released to critical acclaim in the summer of 2022. His album, Clairières, a recording of songs by Lili and Nadia Boulanger, was nominated for the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album. His album, Gods and Monsters, was nominated for the same award in 2017 and made him the first singer of Asian-descent to be nominated in the history of the category, which has been awarded by the Recording Academy since 1959. 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, Bravo! Vail Music Festival, Merola Opera program, 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.
A prolific concert artist, 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, Music @ Menlo, 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, Jonathan Cohen, James Conlon, Alan Curtis, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, James Gaffigan, Grant Gershon, Alan Gilbert, Jane Glover, Giancarlo Guerrero, 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.
A passionate 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, Gabriel Kahane, and Alessio Bax; violinists James Ehnes and Tai Murray; cellist Paul Watkins; the Brooklyn Rider, Jasper and Spektral string quartets; 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 Aspen Music Festival, 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. Often working to build the vocal chamber repertoire, numerous new song cycles have been composed for him by many of today’s pre-eminent composers, including Lembit Beecher, Jake Heggie, Gabriel Kahane, Aaron Jay Kernis, Missy Mazzoli, and Nico Muhly.
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 operatic 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.
As an educator, Phan served on the voice faculty of the DePaul University School of Music from 2018-2020. In addition to his time at DePaul, he has taught (working as both a voice teacher and a coach) at the Eastman School of Music, the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance, and the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera. He currently serves as a coach on the faculty of the San Francisco Opera Center, where he works with the Adler Fellows. In demand as a master class clinician, he has taught master classes for the Tanglewood Music Center, University of Michigan, Oberlin Conservatory, Boston Conservatory, University of Chicago, University of Houston, Longy School of Music, Oregon Bach Festival, American Conservatory Theater, and the San Francisco Girl’s Chorus. He has also led professional development sessions for Tanglewood Music Center, Eastman School of Music, University of Michigan, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Oberlin Conservatory.
Raised in Ann Arbor, MI, Phan is a graduate of the University of Michigan and 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, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and is an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.