Philip Powers has produced performances, recordings and film soundtracks, with a range of artists including Emma Matthews, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Charles Mackerras, Bruce Smeaton, Bill Conti, James Ehnes, Garrick Ohlsson, Anthony Buckley, Nigel Westlake, Audra McDonald, Patricia Lovell, Peter Best and John Bell. He has produced or supervised recordings with an extraordinary array of classical artists, conductors and composers, as well as dozens as producer of film soundtrack recordings. He has produced albums, conceived albums and overseen albums with many other exceptional artists, composers and performers including an ARIA-award winning album (2016) with Josh Pyke and a critically acclaimed recording with violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann of Brett Dean's Violin Concerto.
In June 2017, he finished his 10-year relationship, ambitious and always progressive and enormously satisfying, with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, which started with Sir Charles Mackerras conducting Strauss's Zarathustra, and ended following completion of directing and producing multi-camera shoots of two performances of Nigel Westlake's Oboe Concerto and Ravel's Bolero for SSO & Foxtel Arts and two performances of Copland's 3rd Symphony and Rachmaninov's 4th Piano Concerto, also for Foxtel. Not content to sit back and relax, he looked at what lay ahead, beyond Sydney Symphony Live and 1M1 Records.
Moving forward he pursued new projects that would continue that momentum and find new challenges.
In April, May and June, 2017, he
On July 1, 2017, Philip launched:
A few weeks later he retitled it with an additional phrase, once he realised the enormity of doing 100 films in one year:
On June 30 2018, he celebrated the final hours of the 365 days by watching Citizen Kane with a group of close friends - and Judy brought in an outsider who he had never met before, a friend of a friend, who turned out to be, Nicholas Hammond. He said on seeing me, 'I know you.'
I said, "I know you!" and I repeated the same line from thirty years ago, "You're Spiderman, right?"
Philip: "I'd met Nick about thirty years ago when we were both judges on the AFI committee for selecting the best picture entries and the individual craft nominations (sometime between 1986 and 1992). He was a nice man and I asked him if he was the original Spiderman? He admitted he was THE Spiderman but didn't disclose that he was the original - The Sound of Music - Friedrich, in that uptight musical that has splendid tunes and no content. He was a cool guy and I enjoyed catching up every now and then, again, for some defragmentation."
On August 20, 2018, Philip realised his research on Hitchcock during the '100 Greatest Films Ever,' had prepared him, and given him the basis, for the biggest project of his life: an in-depth analysis of all of Alfred Hitchcock's films, which he tentatively named Alfred Hitchcock: With and Without Limits by Philip Powers.
"There must be at least twenty books out there which examine Hitchcock's life, year by year, or film by film, but I'm certain I have something new to say, a different perspective." - Philip Powers, 30 October 2018
"Every week from September 2018 I watched at least one Hitchcock film a week, often two, sometimes three. Then when I got to Rope, for the second time in twelve months, I came across a film that I'd always liked and thought was very well made, which now had a new resonance for me. It requires more than one or two viewings." - Philip Powers, 28 February 2019
"By the time it was 14 March 2019 I'd watched the film forty times in 44 days. Rope is richer, beyond any other of Hitchcock's films. Not better or greater than any other. Just richer. It was after all the film that he made after being 'A Slave to Selznick for 7 Years'" - Philip Powers, 19 March 2019
"By the beginning of April I knew I had a book all about Rope. I put Alfred Hitchcock: With and Without Limits aside to concentrate on expanding one chapter into a book. Coming up with a title that isn't naff is difficult. It has to say it is Alfred Hitchcock's Rope: An Analysis by Philip Powers, without such a pedestrian title. But it can't be too smart either, like Alfred Hitchcock's Rope: Unbound by Philip Powers." - Powers, 10 April 2019
"Rope: The Film That Hung Selznick and Set Hitchcock Free by Philip Powers. Coming to a bookstore near you as soon as I can condense sixty days of ramblings into something coherent" - Powers, 4 May 2019
"Hung: Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rope' by Philip Powers. Wrote the Table of Contents last night. Suddenly the form and structure of the book took shape and became a reality. I can do this, keep moving forward every day, and have something that will be interesting and informative." - Powers, 5 May 2019
Philip Powers is the grandson of Australian actor Brian Abbot, born 1910, died 1936, who starred in Orphan of the Wilderness (1936) and Mystery Island (1937).
Philip Powers was born in 1963 in Sydney, Australia. He graduated from the University of New South Wales in 1983 with a double-degree majoring in English and Drama. During this period he wrote the music for a dozen songs with lyrics by Dorothy Hewitt for the play “The Chapel Perilous” and was musical director for the run of the show at the NIDA theatre in Randwick. As a result of this he was invited to write his first film score for a graduating student of the UNSW film and television course in 1981, Nick Parsons.
In 1982 he was hired to research music for a Film Australia documentary called The Migrant Experience, directed by Karl McPhee and Ben Lewin. In 1983, several orchestral pieces were performed by the NSW Conservatorium of Music Orchestra, and then, having completed his University Degree, he was hired by Film Australia as Acting Director of Music.
Following this, some five years later, having produced music recording sessions and overseen the musical requirements for over 200 Film Australia documentaries as well as writing music for a dozen films, he began producing film scores for release on compact disc for an American label, Southern Cross, and then his own label, oneMone Records. It started with the American label and then he and Simon Walker conceived of a specialist Australian Film Music label, which Philip then created with James McCarthy: 1M1 Records. Dedicated to releasing Australian film scores, he produced a number of significant soundtracks for release on compact disc. He also began his research into the development of Australian film music and the history of music in Australian film.
Amongst the films he worked on in this period were 'Cane Toads', 'Bingo, Bridesmaids and Braces' and 'After Hours'.
In 1990 he took on a role, with an emphasis and a concentration on Australian recordings, with the Australia Council. He was in charge of applications for a number of different areas, specialising in funding for the recording and release of Australian-based material on compact disc. As a result of this, funding for Australian music recordings increased ten times, resulting in the initiation of Tall Poppies and the support of Move Records, Scratch Records, and dozens of independent labels.
Over the next few years Powers produced cds for 1M1 Records and recorded interviews with many composers, and wrote numerous articles on Australian film music.
Between 1988 and 2007 Powers produced 35 cds for 1M1 Records, before being approached by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, to work as the recording Manager for the Sydney Symphony on their own label, Sydney Symphony Live.
Between 2008 and 2016 he co-produced over 100 recording sessions for the orchestra and Produced or Executive Produced more than 40 cds featuring the Sydney Symphony.
Other notable releases include contemporary classical music of Elision and Simon Walker, Guy Gross, Mark Isaacs and featured his own work, "Wired" in Music for Pianos, Percussion and Synthesizers CD booklet notes.
The Australian Recording Industry Association nominated Powers and the 1M1 label for four ARIA awards: Bloodmoon, Wendy Cracked a Walnut, beDevil and the highly regarded Christ Church St. Laurence CD 'Victoria'.
In 1986 he began aclose friendship with Harrison Ford who had flown to Australia for one night to see the second assembly of footage from "Witness." The film ended, the lights came up, and Harry turned to Peter and said, "Where are all the songs? I thought we were making a musical!" No one fell about laughing except for Harry and Peter and Thom Noble.
Two years later he accidentally met Mel Gibson in a corridor between Theatre 1 and Theatre 2 at the DOTI (Department of the Interior). He, quite accidentally, walked alongside Miller and Gibson down a ten metre walkway, and was amazed to feel a bizarre but significant charisma that both men exuded. It was probably self-confidence but it felt like self-absorption, or self-obsession, the complete belief in the superiority of one or two people over hundreds or thousands of other people.
Another occasion Philip met Mel and George (Miller) was when they were mixing Mad Max 3 and Philip had arrived early to work that morning. Philip wandered into Theatre 2 and was asked if he knew how looping was done? He'd never heard of it.
"You don't know how the actors do looping, or overdubbing?"
The sound engineer and the projectionist showed him how they ran the film, had a red line go across the screen, and that he needed to deliver his line at the point the wipe reached a certain point. Then he had to yell, "What are you waiting for? Kick her in the guts!"
These and many other true stories, and partially true stories, can be found in his three articles, Me and Harry (2016), Mel and Me (2017) and Grace and Oneself (2018).
Philip Powers currently resides in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and two daughters writing music, making upstories and producing recordings.
© 2008, updated 2018
In 2008 I was fortunate to be in a position where I could take on a job, with the SSO, irrespective of how much money they offered.
In 1993 I was emotionally and financially bankrupted by the failure of the release of the soundtrack beDevil. The remixing and editing Carl Vine required, plus the new mastering, made it the most expensive oneMone Records project so far. It cost $7,000.
When James McCarthy and I financed and launced oneMone Records in 1988, we put in $8,000 each.
Then through my careful management, we financed the second album, then the third then the fourth and fifth, etc. based on the returns from the 1st 2nd and 3rd. releases
But 5 years later, $7,000 was almost half of the original investment that launched the label in 1988. Additionally, Carl Vine was a name that meant a lot in Australia, but meant nothing to any international audience.
In Australia we sold about thirty or forty copies, and I couldn't sell it to overseas distributors because no one had ever heard of Carl Vine.
At the end of the day, I had an album that a few people monopolized in the development stages, blowing out the budget, but, I was so committed financially, that I had to keep pouring more money into it.
It was "hello real world" and "goodbye dreams".
I spent seven years in the wilderness. But in 2008, emerged stronger than before.