The Bach Academy Viols at Bethany Lutheran Church's J.S. Bach Academy of Music

“A viola da gamba is added to the [Schola Antiqua vocalists] in the three motets included to great effect. It is neither too intrusive in the mix of voices nor too far in the background as to be ineffectual…the blend of the voices combined with the subtle presence of the viola da gamba makes this a wonderful conclusion to an enjoyable listening experience.” – Notes, June 2011
“…with the addition of gamba, are some of the most well-balanced and lovely moments on the recording…” – Early Music America Magazine, Fall 2011
“Smooth & polished…”  – Centerstage.net
Performing with the Illinois Philharmonic OrchestraPerforming with New Comma Baroque

Dr. Phillip W. Serna (double bass and viola da gamba) is an active and enthusiastic performer of early music alongside contemporary, solo, orchestral, and chamber repertoires. He earned his Bachelor of Music studying with Stephen Tramontozzi at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1998, later completing his Master of Music & Doctor of Music degrees at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music in 2001 and 2007, respectively. At Northwestern, he studied double bass with Michael Hovnanian and DaXun Zhang as well as viola da gamba with Newberry Consort founder Mary Springfels. His doctoral project, ‘Original Crossover? Popular Ballad-Tunes as Art-Music for Viols in Seventeenth-Century England’ focused on solo and ensemble settings of English ballad-tunes for viola da gamba as well as lyra viol transcriptions for double bass.

Performing the Bottesini Concerto No.2 for Double Bass and Orchestra as Part of School OutreachPerforming with the North Shore Chamber Arts EnsembleOn double bass, Dr. Serna has performed under the batons of prestigious conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Christoph Eschenbach, Neeme Järvi and David Robertson as a member of Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He continues to perform with a wide variety of ensembles including the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Illinois Symphony & Chamber Orchestra, Musicians for Michiana, New Philharmonic Orchestra, Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, Renovo String Orchestra, the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, and many others. Dr. Serna is an active soloist performing concerti and virtuoso works by Bottesini, Deak, Koussevitzky, Rautavaara, Tubin and others.

Performing as Viola da Gamba Soloist in a Concerto with the Naperville North Renaissance Strings Project through Viols in Our SchoolsPerforming with the Newberry Consort of ViolsIn his role as an Early Music specialist, Dr. Serna has performed with period-instrument ensembles including Ars Antigua, the Bach Collegium of Fort Wayne, Black Tulip, Burning River Baroque, the Callipygian Players, the Chicago Early Music Consort, L’Ensemble Portique, Les Touches, the Madison Bach Musicians, the Marion Consort, the Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, New Comma Baroque, the Newberry Consort of Viols, the Spirit of Gambo – a Chicago Consort of Viols and others. Dr. Serna has performed at the Bach Institute at Valparaiso University, Bach Week Festival, Chicago Early Music Festival, Handel Week Festival, Madison Early Music Festival, Peoria Bach Festival, and was featured at the Gamba Gamut, a fringe event hosted by the Viola da Gamba Society of America at the 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2015 Boston Early Music Festivals. From the U.S. premieres of Karl Friederich Abel’s Concerto Violo de Gambo in 2018, to premiering Telemann’s complete 1735 Fantasias, to Rudolph Dolmetsch’s Concertino for Viola da Gamba and Small Orchestra in 2012, and a variety of concerti and experimental works too, Dr. Serna has distinguished himself as a champion of the literature of the viola da gamba. In performance, he has appeared on many prestigious Early Music series including the Academy of Early Music in Ann Arbor, Byron Colby Barn’s Early Music at the Barn Series, Gotham Early Music Scene’s Midtown Concerts, the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center’s Mainstage Series, Morton Arboretum’s Winter Chamber Series, and many others. He has appeared on WFMT Chicago 98.7FM, Wisconsin Public Radio WPR, Milwaukee Public Radio 98.7FM, and can be heard on film and video game scores by Neil Acree, Andrew M. Edwards, Scott Glasgow, and Kubilay Üner alongside CD releases from Clarion, Cedille, and Varèse Sarabande Records.

Performing with The Spirit of Gambo - A Chicago Consort of ViolsPerforming on Viols as Music Director of the Viols in Our Schools Program - Winning the 2010 Early Music America Outreach AwardIn 2007, Dr. Serna’s article ‘Early Strings in the Classroom/ Introducing Students to Renaissance and Baroque String Repertoire on Period Instruments’ on classroom outreach advocacy was published in the American String Teachers Association String Teacher’s Cookbook – Creative Recipes for a Successful Program. He serves on the editorial board of the Online Journal of Bass Research (OJBR) and has contributed articles to the Bass World – the Official Magazine of the International Society of Bassists, the American String Teacher and is an active contributor to the Contrabass Conversations Podcast and the online bass resource DoubleBassblog.org. In Early Music publications, Dr. Serna has served as outreach editor for the VdGSA News – the Newsletter of the Viola da Gamba Society of America, and has contributed to Early Music America Magazine.

Teaching at Valparaiso UniversityPresenting at the 2013 H.I.P. Symposium at the Convention of the International Society of Bassists

Dr. Serna maintains a private teaching studio stretching across the Chicago-area teaching double bass and viola da gamba at Valparaiso University and North Central College in Naperville; double bass, viola da gamba and viol consort at the Music Institute of Chicago in Evanston and the J.S. Bach Academy of Music at Bethany Lutheran Church and School in Naperville; and serves as assistant director and sponsor of viol consorts and Illinois’ first public-school period-instrument Baroque ensemble and viol consort at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. Dr. Serna is in demand as an adjudicator and clinician in the Midwest and has served as double bass faculty at the Chicago Bass Festival, the Ball State Bass Day, the Butler Midwest Bass Day, OPUS Chamber Music Camp, and the Whitewater Winter Bassfest. Dr. Serna presented ‘Making Your Baroque Solos More H.I.P.’ in conjunction with Jessica Powell Eig’s performance ‘The Cuckoo’s Egg …or Just
Plain Cuckoo? The Adlai E. Stevenson High School Viol ConsortsPerforming with New Comma BaroqueTranscriptions of Early Music for Double Basses’ at the Historically Informed Performance Summit at the 2013 International Society of Bassists Convention at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. On viola da gamba, Dr. Serna served on the faculties of the Madison Early Music Festival, Music on the Mountain Winter Workshop, the Whitewater Early Music Festival, and the VdGS Third Coast Memorial Day Workshop.  Committed to community engagement and educational outreach, Dr. Serna is the founder and music director of Viols in Our Schools – earning him Early Music America’s 2010 Laurette Goldberg Award for lifetime achievement in Early Music outreach

Dr. Serna is a member of the International Society of Bassists (ISB), Early Music America (EMA) and is president of the Viola da Gamba Society Third Coast (VdGS 3rd Coast), the Chicago-area chapter of the Viola da Gamba Society of America (VdGSA). He lives in Plainfield, IL with his best friend and wife, Magdalena, along with their daughter Natalia and their dog, Chewie.

Performing Hindemtih and Shostakovich at Wentz Hall

Performing with Black Tulip

Performing at the Chicago Bass Festival 2015

Performing with Harmonie

Performing with New Comma Baroque

For more information, download Phillip Serna’s Curriculum Vitae or Performance Resume, sample his Double Bass Solo Repertoire, sample his Viola da Gamba Solo Repertoire, or feel free to contact him at http://www.phillipwserna.com/contact.


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