Philip Koplow’s first association with professional Cincinnati musicians was the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s performance of his tone poem Generations in 1980. Koplow has had fine orchestral success — his music has been performed by the Cleveland Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Cincinnati Pops, the National Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Wyoming Symphony, the Columbus Symphony, the West Chester Symphony, the Blue Ash Symphony, the Northern Kentucky Symphony, and has been recorded by the Silesian Philharmonic in Poland.
Koplow believed that composers should be involved with their communities. He composed music for regional events like the Cincinnati Bicentennial (the Pulitzer Prize-nominated musical theater work On the Banks), the CSO centennial season (Clear to the Final Ocean, which incorporated 11 community handbell choirs), and the Night of the Murdered Poets, a commemoration of Jewish poets executed in Moscow in 1952. In this program (Music Hall, 1983), Paul Nadler led the CCO and the Cincinnati Choral Society.
Koplow was also a national leader in the composition of audience-interactive music. In Legacy: J. Ralph Corbett, 850 audience members played NuTone chimes along with Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Keith Lockhart, and the CSO. In Hello Family, children make an instrument (the “Drumpet” invented by ethnomusicologist Craig Woodson), learn about orchestral families, and perform with the orchestra. At a July Riverbend Family concert, the CSO became the sixth orchestra to play Hello Family. Mikro-Koplows, a collection of children’s piano pieces, and his Elegy for Viola and Orchestra: Martin Luther King Jr. are on the Master Musicians Collective label.
The composer was also involved with area schools, composing for these schools’ ensembles and often setting children’s poetry to music. A project with the Heritage Elementary School saw workshops and assemblies at the school and the composition of a new work for the West Chester Symphony — The Land of Nod, for solo piano and orchestra.
A native of Cleveland OH, Koplow received degrees from Kent State and his doctorate from the Cleveland Institute of Music where one of his classmates was Paul Nadler. In Cleveland his teacher was Donald Erb. Starting in 1976 he was the composer-in-residence at Northern Kentucky University.
In Cincinnati, three mayoral proclamations have marked Koplow projects. The composer had commented, “Some people question whether the orchestra should survive, and others question whether they should do any music by living composers. I think the answer to both problems is to reach the community.”