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Jason Phillips

American composer and combat veteran Jason Phillips has composed a symphony and completed his graduate studies at Arizona State University


Twenty years after returning from Iraq, where he was deployed twice from 2003 to 2004 as a US Army journalist and photographer, American composer, church musician and combat veteran Jason Phillips has overcome his psychological war wounds to compose A Soldier's Symphony and complete his graduate music studies at Arizona State University.

Although not a programmatic depiction of his military deployments, A Soldier's Symphony does provide a musical window into Phillips' journey from battlefield combat in Iraq to mental health battles at home, including a mental health breakdown and his subsequent struggles to rebuild his life. Phillips, who continues to experience combat-related PTSD symptoms, also suffers from what he calls Combat Death and Suffering Experience (CDSE), a condition he has introduced to describe his own wartime and post-war experiences.

Jason Phillips (talking to Daniel Kepl in June 2024)
Jason Phillips (talking to Daniel Kepl in June 2024)

By telling his story, Phillips hopes to raise awareness of and build support for combat veterans who struggle with lifelong mental health challenges and to inspire them to never give up in pursuit of living purposeful, meaningful lives. Phillips is seeking a symphony orchestra to give the first performance of A Soldier's Symphony and, through the performance of his music, draw attention to the mental health issues combat veterans encounter after war as well as to the ways individuals and institutions can help them confront and overcome these challenges.

Listen — Jason Phillips: Rondo (A Soldier's Symphony)
(clip from composer's computer realisation) ℗ 2024 Jason Phillips:

Phillips, originally from California, served in the United States Army from 2001 to 2006. He was deployed to Iraq for eighteen months from March 2003 to December 2004 where, as an army journalist and photographer, he wrote about and photographed military police soldiers of the 720th Military Police Battalion and 89th Military Police Brigade performing missions in some of the most dangerous wartime parts of Iraq including the Sunni Triangle, Fallujah, Samarra, Baghdad and Tikrit, as well as conducting raids that led to the capture of Saddam Hussein. His military awards include three Army Commendation Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Combat Action Badge, and the 4th Estate Award for placing second in the 2002 FORSCOM Keith L Ware Competition Story Series Category.

He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Piano Performance from California State University, a Master's Degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Houston, Master's Degrees in Organ Performance and Composition from the University of Montana, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from Arizona State University. He has served as a church music director and organist in Texas, Virginia, Montana and Arizona including at the Cathedral of St Helena in Helena, Montana. He lives with his family in Mesa, Arizona, and is the music director and organist at Mountain View Lutheran Church in Phoenix.

Jason Phillips' previous orchestral work, Three Aspects, was recorded by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Mikel Toms on Ablaze Records' Orchestral Masters Volume 10.

Listen — Jason Phillips: Three Aspects
(ar-00067 track 6, 15:43-16:43) ℗ 2023 Ablaze Records Pty Ltd:

Reviewing this album, Geoff Pearce commented:

Jason Phillips states that whilst his work Three Aspects is not programmatic, it does depict his journey from darkness as a combat veteran, to one of light and music. It generally has an anti-war theme. There are many different ideas and moods in this work, and sometimes it sounds quite frenetic and at other times serene. The work is about twenty minutes long, but one easily follows the progress of the work as the composer has a good idea of structure and, like all of the works here, he uses the orchestral palette well. This is quite a powerful work.

Further information:

Posted 21 June 2024 by Keith Bramich



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