West End United Methodist Church

Matthew Phelps

Minister of Music

Dr. Matthew Phelps is the Minister of Music at West End United Methodist Church in Nashville, TN. At West End, he conducts the Chancel Choir weekly and performs major concerts with orchestra. At West End, he 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 two organists on staff who plays the 136 rank Moller organ: the largest organ in Tennessee.

Under his direction, the Chancel Choir has been recognized throughout Nashville for its excellence. Of West End's Christmas Concerts, 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 led the Chancel Choir at the 2020 Southeastern regional convention of the American Choral Director's Association in Mobile, AL., in a performance of the music of Dan Forrest. 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 seventh season, the ensemble has performed music ranging from the Renaissance to the modern-day, including Nashville's first performance of all six Bach motets and premieres by local composers. They have performed with Nashville Symphony and the Chiftens and released their first album, "O Love, the Music of Elaine Hagenberg" this past spring. Additionally, Dr. Phelps is the artistic director of Collegium Cincinnati, a professional choral and instrumental ensemble in Cincinnati specializing in early and contemporary music. A regular guest conductor, Dr. Phelps made his Nashville Ballet debut conducting Peter Salem's "A Streetcar Named Desire" and is a regular conductor with the Nashville Concerto Orchestra and the Mozart Birthday Festival Orchestra.

Dr. Phelps has been an active organ recitalist and one of the most sought-after pianists in the Nashville region. A founding member of the Elliston Trio, he has performed chamber music recitals in venues throughout Nashville and nationally. He is also well regarded as a solo recitalist of contemporary music, including performances of Frederic Rezewski's "The People United Will Never be Defeated" and his last major work, "Ages," of which the composer specifically asked Phelps to create a new edition. He has served on the faculty of Lipscomb University, where he taught theory and church music courses. He will be a guest artist at Vanderbilt University in the fall of 2023, where he will conduct the concert choir and teach conducting.

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 in Nashville, and his choirs have performed at regional conventions of MENC and ACDA. Dr. Phelps won the 2015 American Prize in Choral Conducting and has placed in performance competitions as 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.

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