Philip Westin header image 2      
Composer, Conductor




            Composer, conductor, and educator Philip Westin (b. 1945), earned Bachelor of Music degrees in Composition and Church & Choral Music in 1968 from the University of Southern California. In 1970, he earned a Master of Music degree in Composition, also from USC.

            Westin began studying composition at USC with Robert Linn and later studied with Halsey Stevens. In 1968, Ingolf Dahl conducted the world premiere of Westin’s Venite, for soloists, chorus and large symphony orchestra at Bovard Auditorium on the USC campus. Dahl became Westin’s mentor, and he began an intense period of private composition and conducting study with him.

            In addition to studying conducting with Dahl, he also studied conducting with Walter Ducloux, Daniel Lewis, and Charles C. Hirt. Following Dahl's untimely death in 1970, Westin composed In Memoriam ~ Ingolf Dahl for symphonic wind ensemble, and for three years he continued private composition wtudy with composer Roy Harris.


            In 1985, Westin decided to pursue a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership, and he completed the degree at the University of La Verne in 1990. In 1992, he earned a post-doctoral certificate in the Management of Lifelong Education at Harvard University.


            Westin taught music full time at Cerritos College for sixteen years, and was Chair of the Music Department for 14 of those years. During his tenure, he conducted the Cerritos College Symphony Orchestra and Cerritos Master Chorale, and taught advanced Music Theory, Counterpoint, Orchestration, Piano, and Music History.

            Westin was a frequent conductor and lecturer at Brown University, Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, California State University Chico, California State University Long Beach, California State University Los Angeles, and Wayne State University. In addition, he served for two years as an adjunct professor in the doctoral program of Educational Leadership at Pepperdine University.


            While at Cerritos College, Westin was commissioned to compose numerous works by the California Wind Symphony, the Eastern Brass Quintet, California State University Long Beach, St. John's Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, and pianist Robert Bowman.

            In addition, Westin was asked by composer William Schuman to orchestrate the 2nd and 3rd movements of his (Schuman's) orchestral work, Credendum for Symphonic Wind Ensemble, which was premiered by the California Wind Symphony at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center with Westin conducting and Schuman in attendance.

           Upon his retirement from educational leadership positions, Westin again became active in composing. In 2007, he wrote the music for a full-length operetta, Heartland, subsequently realized in a studio demonstration recording. In April, 2008, Heartland was one of four works selected in a national competition to be presented at the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop at Disney Studios in Burbank, led by Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz.

           In the summer of 2008, Westin was commissioned by Hector Salazar, Music Director of the Carson-Dominguez Hills Symphony Orchestra, to compose Timothy and the Magic Garden, a work to introduce children to the orchestra. In July, 2010, Westin completed the composition of a full-length opera, Marie’s Orchard, commissioned by Center Stage Opera, located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. Based upon Willa Cather’s novel, O Pioneers!, the opera was premiered in June 2011 by CSO in a fully-staged production with orchestra, conducted by Brian Onderdonk.

           In 2014 he completed another commission by Hector Salazar, Lovers at Daybreak, a concerto for Oboe/English Horn (1 soloist playing both instruments), harp and string orchestra. It was premiered at El Camino College’s Center for the Arts on April 6, 2014, with Joseph Stone as soloist.

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            As a conductor in the 1970s and ’80s, Westin was well known throughout the greater Los Angeles area through performances of several organizations, including the Los Angeles Chamber Chorale, which performed at the Mark Taper Forum of the Los Angeles Music Center and other venues.

            Westin later founded and was Music Director of the California Wind Symphony, which performed throughout the southland and in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center. A professional wind ensemble specializing in 20th century American works, the California Wind Symphony was the recipient of a major grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

            The California Wind Symphony’s Board of Advisors comprised many of the leading composers of the day, including Aaron Copland, Elmer Bernstein, Norman Dello Joio, John Green, Karl Husa, Bronislaw Kaper, Howard Hanson, Roy Harris, Henry Mancini, Ron Nelson, Vincent Persichetti, Walter Piston, Lalo Schifrin, William Schuman, Roger Sessions, Virgil Thomson, and John Williams.

            In addition to conducting the LA Chamber Chorale and California Wind Symphony, Westin was also active conducting in the pit at Cerritos College and the La Mirada Civic Theatre. In 1979, he conducted a production of Leonard Bernstein's Mass with a cast of over 300. Pleased with the production, Bernstein sent Westin a personal telegram thanking and congratulating him on the performance of the massive work.

            In 1979, Westin formed the critically-acclaimed Master Symphony Orchestra, which for several years played subscription concert series at Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, Bridges Auditorium in Pomona, El Camino College Center for the Arts in Torrance, Wash Memorial Auditorium in Garden Grove, and the Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara.

            Under his baton, the Master Symphony performed major symphonic works, choral orchestral works, and opera. Soloists with the orchestra included, among others, Martina Arroyo, Carlo Bergonzi, Marvelee Cariaga, John Cheek, Horacio Gutieriez, Daniel Heifetz, Peter Nero, Leonard Pennario, Roberta Peters, Daniel Pollack, Kenneth Sandford,and Arnold Voketaitis.

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            Westin left Cerritos College in 1986 and assumed the positions of Dean of Fine Arts and Executive Director, Center for the Arts at El Camino College. In 1992 he accepted the position of Vice President of Instruction at Golden West College in Huntington Beach.

            In 1994 Westin was inaugurated President of Golden West College, and from 1996 until his retirement from educational leadership positions in 2003, he served as Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District where he was in charge of its three comprehensive colleges and numerous educational centers.


            Westin and his wife, Ellisha reside near the Temecula wine country in Southern California, and he continues to be active composing.

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