Phil Hilfiker, a saxophonist / composer & arranger / music educator is another of our alumni that we’re most proud of. His talent, wit and hard work did not fail to earn him the well deserved success he enjoys as a musician. Besides that his humility and gratitude is something we also admire about him.
Phil began his apprenticeship in music while growing up in Switzerland and Germany through recorder and piano lessons, and regular participation in choirs, before settling on the saxophone as the main instrument in his teens. He eagerly pursued music all throughout high school, where his primary mentor became former Berklee faculty member Fritz Renold, and he participated in several of the first editions of the JazzAar Youth Learning program, during which he had the opportunity to share stages in Switzerland and Italy with some of the greatest names in Jazz, such as Benny Golson, Randy Brecker, Adam Nussbaum, Bob Berg, Bill Pierce, and Franco Ambrosetti.
After receiving his high school diploma from the Alte Kantonsschule in Aarau, Phil served in the Swiss Army Band during basic military training, before setting out to continue his studies in music in the USA.
Multiple scholarships and assistantship awards allowed him to earn his Bachelor’s Degree from the renowned Berklee College of Music (Boston), and a few years later also a Master’s Degree from the University of New Hampshire.
Phil was fortunate to get to study with some of the most respected names in music education, such as Hal Crook, Bill Pierce, George Garzone, and Greg Hopkins, and has had opportunities to gain additional musical insight in various situations on and off the stage from such renowned musicians as Clark Terry, Ray Brown, Paquito D’Rivera, Bob Brookmeyer, Frank Wess, Herb Pomeroy, Steve Coleman, and Clarence Penn.
After having made Boston his temporary home for six years, during which he performed with various groups throughout the New England region of the United States and beyond, Phil moved to Paris/France, where he has been active as a saxophonist, composer & arranger, and music educator for over 15 years.
Phil served as professor of music and chair of the Winds Department at the American School of Modern Music for over a decade, before deciding to take on the challenge of creating a new school for jazz and contemporary music education in Paris, together with some of his most long-standing international colleagues in the field.
Phil currently serves as co-director and chair of the Winds Department at IMEP • Paris College of Music, a « Berklee Global Partner » school, where he teaches with a team of highly experienced music educators that includes Rick Margitza, Manuel Rocheman, Josiah Woodson, and Peter Giron.
Phil equally enjoys spending time in the studio as a composer and producer of music for film, video, and other visual projects.
As a performer, Phil has shared stages across Europe and the USA and/or recorded with such highly respected artists as Gary Burton, Benny Golson, Lionel Loueke, Rick Margitza, Jeff Ballard, Glenn Ferris, Lage Lund, Barrie Lee Hall Jr., Danny Elfman, and Vin Gordon.