Phillip Kolker began his professional career at the age of 14 as Second Bassoon in the Albany Symphony, where he played until he graduated from high school. In the fall of 2010, he retired as Principal Bassoon of the Baltimore Symphony after 38 years. In between those first and last jobs, he served as Principal in the Milwaukee Symphony, Associate Principal in the Minnesota Orchestra and Principal in both the Santa Fe Opera and St. Paul Opera orchestras. Kolker has appeared as soloist with the Baltimore Symphony as well as with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and, internationally, with orchestras in Spain and Taiwan.
Music Directors Phillip Kolker has worked with as Principal Bassoon include Sergiu Commissiona, David Zinman, Yuri Temirkanov and Marin Alsop. He also worked under Stanislaw Skrowaczewski for six seasons as Associate Principal Bassoon. In addition, Phillip Kolker has played in orchestras with conductors such as Leon Fleisher, Eugene Ormandy, Leopold Stokowski, Pierre Monteux, Erich Leinsdorf, Antal Dorati, Howard Hansen, Frederick Fennell, Alexander Schneider and Jean Martinon. Phillip Kolker has performed chamber music throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, appearing with such players as flutists Robert Willoughby and Marina Piccinini, oboist John Mack, English horn player Thomas Stacy, clarinetists Anthony Gigliotti, Franklin Cohen and Larry Coombs, pianist Malcolm Frager, violinist Hilary Hahn and cellist Anner Bylsma.
Kolker is a member of the Artist Faculty of the Peabody Conservatory. In summer 2017, he hosted the seventh “Peabody Bassoon Week” (July 22-29) an intense camp for college and high school aged students. Kolker has also been a visiting Professor at the Eastman School of Music, and has presented Master Classes at the Curtis Institute, Eastman, the National Orchestral Institute, the Glickman-Popkin Bassoon Camp, where he was Guest Faculty, the Interlochen National Music Camp and in Korea and Taiwan. He has been a featured recitalist at several International Double Reed Conventions and has served on the Executive Committee of the IDRS. For many years Kolker was a fixture at Music from Gretna. Orchestral recordings with the Baltimore Symphony include the Vanguard, Telarc, London, Sony, Argo and Naxos labels.
Phillip Kolker remains an active performer in various groups throughout the mid-Atlantic region.