Phil Castang takes us through the steps of his career in the music world, which landed him at the helm of Bristol Plays Music.

Photo of Phil Castang

Hub Leader, Bristol Plays Music, part of Bristol Music Trust (2014 - present)

I have only been in this role a short time but I am really excited about the future and the difference The Hub can make. Bristol Plays Music (BPM) is Arts Council England’s Music Education Hub for the city of Bristol. In 2013 it became part of Bristol Music Trust, the independent charity that manages Colston Hall. It brings the arts and education together to deliver a broad range of music and dance education opportunities throughout the city, including in schools and the wider community. We now support over 10,000 children and young people across Bristol.

What attracted me to Bristol was the opportunity to work with a first rate venue, Colston Hall, in a community that embraces and celebrates creativity so completely. Colston Hall is the only music venue in the UK with an Education Hub and it’s up to us to show the value of this to the rest of the industry. Our vision is to make Bristol the UK capital of young people’s music and to inspire a culture of music making. It is my job as Hub Leader, along with the talented team here at Bristol Plays Music and Colston Hall, to help make this happen.

Chief Executive Officer, Newham Music Trust (2012 - 2014)

In 2012, enchanted by the opportunity to become part of the Olympic legacy, I took on the role of CEO at Newham Music Hub. Similar to Bristol Plays Music, Newham Music Trust is a charity that provides music education in schools and communities. In 2013, it was recognised with a Diploma Award by the National Music Council and also delivered numerous projects in the community. This included working with other East London Hubs to set up the East London and City Culture Partnership with the Barbican Centre, Guildhall School of Music & Drama and London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). This was an amazing opportunity to work with, in my opinion, the best arts centre, conservatoire and orchestra in Europe. One of the projects with the LSO was called On Track, which was an amazing initiative for young instrumentalists across East London.

Managing Director, International Guitar Foundation (2005 - 2012)

International Guitar Foundation is a music charity that delivers a nationwide portfolio of events in some of the best concert halls in the world, including the London Guitar Festival at Southbank Centre and the North East Guitar Festival at Sage Gateshead. We also developed The Forum, a 1,800 seat auditorium in the city of Bath, for large-scale commercial music events, promoting artists such as Patti Smith, Van Morrison, Rufus Wainwright, Brian May, KT Tunstall, Newton Faulkner and Ray Davies.

Executive Producer and Co-Founder, BGS Records (1996 - 2012)

BGS is an award-winning record label that I co-founded with guitarist Tom Kerstens. We worked with some fantastic recording projects including the brilliant lutenist Nigel North. We also commissioned new music from many great British composers including Graham Fitkin, Errollyn Wallen, Joby Talbot, Philip Cashian and Max Richter and produced Utopia, the debut recording of Tom Kersten’s G Plus Ensemble on Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records. It was Real World’s first classical project.

Education Manager, International Guitar Foundation and Drum Foundation (1999 - 2005)

I managed a year-round programme of education projects in schools, colleges, universities and community centres throughout the UK. This included founding the National Youth Rock Orchestra and delivering WOMAD summer schools for music, art and dance.

Guitar Teacher, Berkshire Young Musicians Trust and Highgate School (1992 - 1999)

I taught guitar at Berkshire Central Music Centre and various secondary and primary schools throughout Berkshire and Reading, helping to deliver individual tuition, ensemble, orchestra and band workshops.

Chief Sound Engineer, Clock Studios (1985 - 1992)

I walked out of school at 16 and straight into one of London’s top recording studios to be a tea boy. One day the Chief Engineer didn’t turn up and that was my chance. The experience was extraordinary. Over the years, I got to work with some of the most influential musicians of my time including Robert Plant, Ringo Starr, Adam Ant and David Gilmour.

Phil Castang is Hub Leader for Bristol Plays Music.

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Photo of Phil Castang