A Southern California native, Phil studied music as an undergraduate at Fresno State University and earned graduate degrees in conducting and music education from both the Eastman School of Music and the University of Oklahoma. He began his teaching career in 1988 directing school and community music ensembles in California and Nevada. As a conductor and music director, Phil has produced and performed a wide variety of classical, musical theater, and pop/vocal jazz repertoire, and since 1996, he has adjudicated and done workshops for hundreds of school music groups with Heritage Music Festivals.
For his classroom activities, Phil received a 1991 "Golden Apple Award" for outstanding work with the Lompoc Unified School District and the 2005 “Secondary Vocal Music Teacher of the Year Award” from Arts OC in Orange County, California. The faculty of the School of Music at the University of Oklahoma voted him the recipient of the highly regarded “Gail Boyd de Stwolinski Award” for highest achievement and distinguished contributions as a doctoral student. In 1987 he won first prize at the Scarritt National Choral Conducting Competition in Nashville--the youngest ever to earn that distinction. His ensembles consistently receive superior ratings at music festivals across the country, and he has been invited to present performances for state conventions of the California Music Educators Association and the Idaho Music Educators Association. Phil has led choir tours throughout the United States and Europe, and he has directed state, local, and regional high school and middle school honor choirs in Georgia, Nevada, California, and Idaho. An ardent proponent of secondary school music, Phil specializes in the teaching and performance of pre-nineteenth century choral repertoire as well as school music curriculum alignment, elementary music content standards, and music teacher evaluation.
In 2013, Phil appeared with his family and former NFL Superbowl MVP Kurt Warner in the USA Network inspirational reality series The Moment. He currently resides in Orange County, CA with wife Megan Starr-Levitt, a former “Christine” with the national tour of “The Phantom of the Opera” and their sons Alexander and Stefan. Phil and his family proudly support the efforts of three important organizations dedicated to the growth and mentoring of children and adults on the autism spectrum: Rethinking Austism, Spirit League, and Rock the Autism.