Musician Spotlight—Meet Phil Shirley, Principal Bassoon

When Phil Shirley was a student at the University of Kansas, he took a job at the campus library and found he liked the work more than he had liked any other job. That led to an academic focus in library science, and he went on to earn his master’s degree in library and information science at the University of Texas in Austin.

He is now the IT manager at the Cuyahoga Falls Library. “I like to work at a place that helps the community,” Phil said.

Phil’s other job is that of a bassoon player, and he has been the principal bassoonist with the Tuscarawas Philharmonic for many years.

While growing up in Tulsa, OK, Phil explored his musical interest by learning to play the clarinet in the seventh grade, but he switched to bassoon. “I loved it from the very beginning because of the weird, rich sound,” he recalled, “and the fact that it was unusual.”

He credits Ron Wheeler, the conductor of the Tulsa Youth Symphony, as an early influence and mentor.

Phil went on to play bassoon in college, performing with the university orchestra and woodwind quintets in Kansas, and later with the orchestra in Austin as well.

Now with the Philharmonic, Phil particularly enjoys performing original works by Eric Benjamin. And on his own time, when listening to music for enjoyment, he draws on his eclectic taste and often chooses the a cappella group The Bobs or the polka/rock band out of Texas, Brave Combo. He might even listen to a little novelty music from “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Phil and his wife, Anna, live in Akron with their standard poodle, Pippa. In their spare time, they enjoy hiking.

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