Philip Carlsen


Born in Coulee Dam, Washington, in 1951, Philip Carlsen studied at the University of Washington, Brooklyn College, and the CUNY Graduate Center, working principally with Robert Suderburg and Jacob Druckman, as well as with Stuart Dempster, William Bergsma, Mario Davidovsky, and Charles Dodge.  He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Maine Arts Commission; a residency at the MacDowell Colony; and the 1989 American Composers Alliance/Town Hall Commission. 

The National Symphony Orchestra, in connection with its nationwide residency program, chose Carlsen to represent Maine in writing a new chamber work for premiere at the Kennedy Center that would “express the spirit of Maine’s people.”  Other commissions have come from the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the Bossov Ballet Theatre, the Sebago-Long Lakes Region Chamber Music Festival, the trio Penumbra, etc.  Carlsen’s solo piano piece “October,” recorded by his son Melsen, is available from Navona Records on the SCI CD series.

In addition to his orchestral, chamber, and vocal music for traditional Western musicians, Carlsen has also composed for Javanese and Sundanese gamelan, for Laotian khean, and for his own original instruments.  He has written and premiered five pieces for automobile orchestra in Farmington, Maine.  One of them, “ReinCARnation,” was encored in October 2015 in the courtyard of Schloss Mirabell in Salzburg.

Carlsen is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Maine at Farmington, where he conducted the orchestra and taught other music courses for 33 years.  He lives in South Portland, Maine, with his wife, the poet Jeri Theriault.

ACE Publications

76 title(s)
Philip Carlsen You Spotted Snakes SSA Chorus
Philip Carlsen When the Trees Came for Her Mixed Chorus, Soprano Solo, and Piano
Philip Carlsen VALENTINE for Javanese gamelan, slendro and pelog
Philip Carlsen Turning Any Number of Improvisers
cello, with Sundanese gamelan degung (5 or more players)
Philip Carlsen SUSURRUS solo marimba
Philip Carlsen Stutter Step Trumpet and Piano
Philip Carlsen Strolling Grover's Row Big Band
Flute, Clarinet, A. Sax, T. Sax, Bar. Sax - 4 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Bass Trombone - Piano, Drums, Bass
Philip Carlsen SONGS OF HERSELF SATB chor
Philip Carlsen Soft Voices - Choir with Chamber Ensemble SATB, 1 1 1 1 - 1 1 0 0 - STRINGS
Philip Carlsen Soft Voices - a cappella SAATB a cappella (Vocal quintet or choir)
Philip Carlsen SNOW LEAF Javanese gamelan, slendro and pelog
Philip Carlsen ROWING IN EDEN 2fl(pic), 2ob(ca), 2 cl, 2 bn / 4,2,3,1 / timp / 1 perc / hp / str
Philip Carlsen Rhizome Bass Flute, Trumpet, Vibraphone, and Double Bass
Philip Carlsen ReinCARnation Car radios
Automobile orchestra
Philip Carlsen Pour les sixtes Vibraphone and Marimba
Philip Carlsen Polka Folks - Version for 4-Hands Marimba Marimba Four-Hands
Philip Carlsen POLKA FOLKS Piano or Accordion
Philip Carlsen Phantastische Sonate piano and chamber orchestra (2-1-2-2 / 2-1-0-0 / timp / str)
Philip Carlsen PENUMBRA Clarinet, Violin, and Piano
Philip Carlsen October Solo Piano
Philip Carlsen NIMBUS Percussion Trio
Philip Carlsen NIGHT THOUGHTS - Piano Vocal SATB, piano
Philip Carlsen NIGHT THOUGHTS S, SATB chor, 2 hn, hp, 2 vla, 2 vc, db
Philip Carlsen NEW WORLD SUITE No. 3, Part 2: WHO IS THE FLUTEPLAYER? String Trio
Violin, Viola, and Cello

Additional Works