Spotlight on Philip Fortenberry, 2018 Gala Performer

As a versatile artist whose styles encompass a wide range of musical genres, Philip Fortenberry is a performer with an equally expansive career. Philip was the pianist and Associate Conductor for the Broadway musical, Rocky, where he also received the inaugural “Ghostlight Award” as Best Musician on Broadway. He was honored with the 2014 “Encore Award for Musical Excellence” presented by The Nevada School of the Arts. Philip was featured as the piano double for Emmy and Golden Globe winner Michael Douglas’ portrayal of Liberace in the HBO Films biopic, Behind the Candelabra. He is currently the Associate Conductor of Jersey Boys at Paris Las Vegas.

A native of Columbia, Mississippi, Philip began playing the piano at the age of four and by seven was the accompanist for his church. Philip performed his first solo concert when he was twelve while continuing his work as a church pianist and organist throughout high school and college until he left the south and moved to New York City. Philip continued private piano studies at The Juilliard School. He holds a Master of Music degree in classical piano performance from New Jersey City University and is currently pursuing the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was adjunct faculty at the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University and received the 2004 Distinguished Service Award from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Early in his career in New York, Philip became the musical director and on-stage pianist for the long-running off-Broadway satirical revue, Forbidden Broadway. He was also the musical supervisor for the West End version of the show in London. Philip has played for ten Broadway productions and eight national tours including such shows as Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Saturday Night Fever, Ragtime, Seussical–The Musical, Sideshow, and The Lion King. Philip toured the U.S. and Canada in concert performances of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and he was a frequent guest with Lincoln Center’s “Meet the Artists” series.

Philip made his Carnegie Hall debut as the pianist/conductor for legendary entertainer, Eartha Kitt, and later returned to Carnegie Hall in concert with The Three Irish Tenors. He performed with singer Charlotte Church at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall and accompanied internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica Von Stade at the Oregon Bach Festival, the White House, and the Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations for President George H. W. Bush. Philip performed for the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the United Nations, and was privileged to accompany singer Laurie Beechman at the 70th birthday gala for Lady Margaret Thatcher in Washington, D.C. By joint commission from the Eudora Welty and William Faulkner Societies, Philip, along with actress Brenda Currin and director David Kaplan, created and performed a theatrical fantasia entitled June Recital, which was based on the works of acclaimed Mississippi author, Eudora Welty and which incorporated Beethoven’s Emperor piano concerto.

Currently a resident of Las Vegas, Philip was the associate conductor for Hairspray at the Luxor Theater, Mamma Mia! at Mandalay Bay, and the North American premiere of the rock music extravaganza, We Will Rock You, at Paris Las Vegas. Philip was the featured artist-in residence at the Liberace Museum where he performed his one-man show, Liberace and Me. Philip’s critically acclaimed solo cabaret concert, The Man at the Piano, continues to play to sold-out houses at Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.