Dr. Matthew Phelps is the Minister of Music at West End United Methodist Church in Nashville, TN. At West End he conducts the nationally renowned Chancel Choir on a weekly basis and performs major concerts with orchestra. He also oversees a multi-faceted music department that includes two adult choirs, four choirs for children and youth, and two handbell choirs. As an organist, he is one of three organists on staff who plays the 136 rank Moller organ; the largest organ in the state of Tennessee. This coming season, Dr. Phelps will lead the Chancel Choir in a performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. He will also prepare the choir for a performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C, led by guest conductor Earl Rivers.
Dr. Phelps has put West End at the forefront of Nashville’s classical music scene. Of West End’s Christmas Concert last year, the Nashville Scene wrote: “In a season overloaded with dedicated repertoires, West End United Methodist Church reaches beyond the standard hymns and carols for an afternoon of festive selections that skirt Christmas norms.” Dr. Phelps’ performances have been described as “beautifully prepared,” (Mary Ellen Hutton, Cincinnati Post) “beautifully shaped,” (David Katz, Chief Judge of the American Prize) and “moving and deeply meaningful.” (Walter Bitner, Nashville Symphony Orchestra)
Dr. Phelps is also the founder and artistic director of the professional chamber choir Vocal Arts Nashville. In their first season, the ensemble will present the complete Bach motets, along with American choral gems and Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes. An active organ recitalist, Dr. Phelps has played in churches around the country including regular engagements at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Manhattan. Dr. Phelps is also an active pianist, often performing with violinist Erin Hall and cellist Keith Nicholas as a member of the Ellison Trio. In the spring, he will join 15 other pianists in a complete performance of Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas. In June of 2018 he will perform Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G with the Nashville Concerto Orchestra. He is on the faculty of Lipscomb University where he teaches courses in theory and church music.
Dr. Phelps is from Cincinnati, OH where he finished his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in conducting from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. He worked extensively in New York City and Cincinnati before arriving to Nashville; and his choirs have performed at regional conventions of MENC and ACDA. Dr. Phelps was the winner of the 2015 American Prize in Choral Conducting and has placed in performance competitions as both an organist and pianist. He studied conducting with Earl Rivers, Mark Gibson, and Stephen Coker. He has studied organ with Jerry Taylor, Thom Miles, Matthew Lewis, and Michael Unger. He lives in Bellevue with his wife Colleen and son Noah; and is an avid chef.