After his early training in Gloucester as a chorister, organist and pianist, Christopher Phelps studied at the Royal College of Music in London, winning many prizes. He was organist and choirmaster at Armagh Cathedral before moving to Vienna to study with Hans Swarowsky at the Akademie für Musik. From there he went on to work and study in Italy and Salzburg, winning international prizes, particularly for conducting. He has worked with many distinguished musicians, including Nigel Kennedy, John Lill and Leon Goossens, and also had the opportunity to work in a masterclass with the late Herbert von Karajan.
In addition to conducting he is a talented transcriber and arranger. In 2000 he conducted his orchestration of César Franck’s Chorale No. 2 for organ in Prague, and he has since been contracted to orchestrate Nos 1 and 3 by United Music Publishers. His orchestrations of the Franck Chorale and of Liszt’s Fantasia and Fugue on ‘BACH’ have been recorded for the ASV White Line label, by the City of Prague Philharmonic and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia respectively, both conducted by Gavin Sutherland. His orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition has been performed by Colchester Symphony Orchestra.
From 1973 to 2006 he worked at the Colchester Institute Centre for Music and Performing Arts, latterly as Course Tutor for the B.A. Music course. He has been Musical Director of the Colchester Symphony Orchestra since 1983, and of Hadleigh Choral Society since 1991. He also conducts the Kelvedon Singers, with whom he makes regular visits to France to perform in Cahors Cathedral.