Ms. Vannia Phillips

Violin, Viola Teacher

Vannia Phillips

SAA Member

Vannia Phillips is passionate about playing and teaching the viola and violin. Her teaching philosophy embraces the importance of helping students find a relaxed, balanced posture while inspiring them to explore their own creative voice. She enjoys working with students of varying ages and abilities. She has had the opportunity to assist students with Sensory Processing Disorder, blindness, and hearing impairment.

Vannia is also a certified yoga teacher. Her hatha yoga training has much in common with the Suzuki philosophy. Both philosophies emphasize the importance of finding balanced, healthy alignment, yet they are centered around the belief that teachers are nurturing the whole person. The teacher acknowledges the beauty of what is present while helping students find an even deeper expression.

While earning her BA in philosophy at Villanova University, she studied with Sidney Curtiss of The Philadelphia Orchestra, played in the Philadelphia Youth orchestra, and performed chamber music at The University of the Arts.

Vannia’s philosophy professor and mentor, Dr. John Immerwahr, encouraged her love of music and inspired her to continue her music studies at Oberlin Conservatory, where she studied with Jeff Irvine and Lynne Ramsey and earned a Bachelor of Music. At DePaul University, Vannia studied with Rami Solomonov and completed her Master of Music in Performance.

Vannia is on faculty at the Music Institute. Previously, she taught at the Suzuki-Orff School for and the Musical Offering. In addition, she has been on faculty at the Fairbanks, Alaska, Fine Arts Camp and Louisville Suzuki Summer Institute.

From 1996 to 2004, Vannia was the violist of Lyra Quartet, the Quartet-in-Residence at Carthage College. She performs often with the Chicago Opera Theater, an ensemble in which she had the honor of working with composer and conductor John Adams during the Chicago premiere of his opera The Flowering Tree and most recently performed in the Chicago premier of Charpentier’s Médée. She was the violist in the string quartet of the Chicago production of The Color Purple. More recently, she was the violist in the Chicago production of An American Story. She has been a member of the Chicago Sinfonietta since 1998. She has worked with Ars Viva, Fulcrum Point, Joffrey Ballet, Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic, and the Center for Black Music Research of Columbia College (CBMR). During her first eight years in Chicago, she frequently escaped its winter weather to perform with the Key West Symphony.

A lover of period instrument music, Vannia worked with Marilyn McDonald, playing in the baroque orchestra at Oberlin Conservatory. She later studied at the International Baroque Festival at Longy, performing in masterclasses with Elizabeth Blumenstock and Dana Maiben. In Chicago she has played baroque viola with Baroque Band, Chicago Opera Theater, and Urban Baroque. She has performed on WFMT with Baroque Band. Vannia can be heard on Baroque Band’s recording of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s Mensa Sonora and the complete overtures by English composer Maurice Greene (1696-1755). These recordings are on the Cedille label.

Vannia also enjoys contemporary, popular music. She has recorded and performed with international artists including Mono, Depravos de la Mour, James McCartney, Chuck Prophet, and Sleeping at Last. She has performed with artists Stevie Wonder, Bernadette Peters, Vince Gill, Ben Vereen, Al Jareau, Smoky Robinson, Brian Wilson, Jerry Lewis, Heather Headley, and Barry Manilow. She appeared with the rapper Commom on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and with Josh Groban on Oprah. She recently performed as part of a string quartet on an episode of the TV series Empire. In the Chicago area, she has joined with Quartet Parapluie in recording sessions and performances with singer/songer Steve Dawson and Funeral Bonsai Wedding. They have recently appeared in Chicago at the Hideout, Constellation, and Square Roots Festival.