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Phillip Kolker was Principal Bassoon of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for 38 years, retiring from that position in the fall of 2010. Kolker began his professional playing career at the age of 14 as Second Bassoon in the Albany Symphony, a job he held until he graduated from high school. In between those last and first jobs, he served as Principal in the Milwaukee Symphony, Associate Principal in the Minnesota Orchestra and Principal in both the Santa Fe (NM) 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. Conductors he has worked with include Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Sergiu Commissiona, David Zinman, Yuri Temirkanov, Marin Alsop, Leon Fleisher, Eugene Ormandy, Leopold Stokowski, Pierre Monteux, Erich Leinsdorf, Antal Dorati, Howard Hansen, Frederick Fennell, Alexander Schneider, and Jean Martinon. He has performed chamber music throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, appearing with such artists as flutists Robert Willoughby, Timothy Day, and Marina Piccinini, violinist Hilary Hahn, Baroque cellist Anner Bylsma, oboists John Mack and Joseph Turner, English horn player Thomas Stacy, clarinetists Anthony Gigliotti, Steven Barta, Franklin Cohen, and Larry Coombs and pianists Malcolm Frager and Ann Schein.

Phillip Kolker is a member of the Artist Faculty of the Peabody Conservatory, where he also served as Chair of the Department of Orchestral Instruments for over 30 years. Summer 2019 marks the ninth year when he hosts the Kolker Moncilovich Bassoon Academy  (July 24-August 5, 2019) formerly Peabody Bassoon Week, an intense camp for college and high school-aged bassoon players, as well as for gifted amateurs. The Academy is now held at Master Players Festival and School at the University of Delaware.  Kolker has 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 has also been Guest Faculty, the Interlochen National Music Camp and in both 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. He also continues to freelance regularly throughout the mid-Atlantic region with such groups as the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. Orchestral recordings with the Baltimore Symphony include the Vanguard, Telarc, London, Sony, Argo and Naxos labels.

Professor Kolker plans to retire from Peabody at the end of the 2021-22 academic year.