Rice rehearses with the China
Orchestra in Beijing.
Family and friends greet Rice after his
performance with the China
Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing--(left-
to-right) Jan Wu, David Rice,
Kara Rice, Philip Rice, Elizabeth Rice,
Juanelva Rose, and Vivien Ku.
Philip Rice (right) relaxes with his older
brother, David, and
American conductor Philip Rice
returns to his Taichung roots
By Robin Wu
Translated by S. Ying
In September, 2013, the Tunghai University Luce Choir, organized by Pastor Samuel Li, welcomed Philip Rice as its new Music Director. Since then, exciting things have happened under Mr. Rice's leadership, as the choir earned a top prize at the 2014 Mid-Taiwan University Choral Competition and was invited to perform on Good TV's "Classical Music River" program after its December Christmas concert. Tunghai students have taken note and choir participation has soared.
Few choral directors can match Mr. Rice's impressive resume, which includes 27 years of professional experience in orchestral, choral, opera, and ballet conducting. Back in America, he served as Music Director of the New Bedford Symphony, Orchestra Atlanta, Rome (Georgia) Symphony, Georgia Philharmonic, Choral Arts of Chattanooga, and Chattanooga Ballet. Last month, he appeared in Beijing as Guest Conductor of the China Philharmonic Orchestra.
Since arriving in Taichung, he has enjoyed close bonds with choir members, noting, "Getting to know the students on a personal level provides them the motivation to do their best."
However, his connections to Taiwan go much deeper. In 1963 at the age of 5, he moved here with his parents and older brother, David, and remained on-island for over a decade. Mr. Rice first learned to sing from his mother, Elizabeth, herself a noted singer and choral conductor, and his operatic debut at the age of 12 was the title role of Amahl in "Amahl and the Night Visitors" by Menotti, performed at Tunghai's Old Music Department. Today, he continues to sing and in November, 2014 he was the featured soloist at the National Taichung Theater's grand opening ceremony.
Mr. Rice's new role in growing the Luce Choir continues a family tradition, as his mother once worked closely with the well-known founder of Tunghai's Music Department, Dr. Juanelva Rose, by taking over the Tunghai University Choir and building it to high acclaim. As a chief administrator, his father, William, also oversaw the dramatic expansion and modernization of the then-small Changhua Christian Hospital as a chief administrator.
The Tunghai Luce Choir will sing in this year's university choral competition on March 7 at 1:30 p.m. at Yunlin University of Science and Technology, and its free spring concert is on June 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the newly-renovated Luce Chapel. Compass readers are invited to both performances!