A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Philip Bauman

A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Philip Bauman
By: Sergio Valdes Last Updated: August 12, 2020

Philip Bauman is a man with a true passion and understanding for music. As the conductor for Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra Youth Orchestra and Music Director of the Michigan City Messiah, music has had a tremendous influence on Bauman’s life and overall philosophy.

“Music stirs the soul and brings emotions to life,” Bauman said. “It projects one’s feelings in a visceral and internal way.”

Growing up in Battle Creek, Michigan, Bauman’s appreciation for music began when he started playing the trumpet in 5th grade and the French horn in middle school. He then participated in Band and Choir during his high school years, even serving as drum major during his senior year.

“I was very fortunate to have all these musical opportunities given to me throughout my childhood,” Bauman said. “I credit my teachers and instructors for nurturing my passion and talent for music and encouraging me to pursue my career.”

After graduating from high school, Bauman was mentored by Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra conductor, William Stein, which opened the door to some conducting opportunities. Bauman then attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo for an undergraduate degree in Music Theory. Later, he attended Northwestern University in Evanston, IL to obtain a master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting. Once he graduated, he was hired by the Chicago Opera Theater as an assistant conductor, and for the next several years, he operated in the Chicagoland area.

Prior to working for the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, Bauman had a 13-year stint with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, conducting various classical and educational concerts. The Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra hired Bauman as the Youth Orchestra Conductor, and then he was offered the role of Orchestra Manager in 2008. In addition to his duties as a conductor, he is now responsible for the logistical and mechanical aspects of running the orchestra.

Bauman described the process of conducting as “learning the music,” which means having an in-depth understanding of what the music represents and its mechanical structure like harmonic progressions and rhythm. A conductor has to acknowledge the vision of the original composer while also integrating and fleshing out their own musical sensibilities through the piece with the help of the rest of the ensemble.

“A symphony is a collaborative journey,” Bauman said. “As a conductor, you have to be a good listener. You have to let everyone in the ensemble express themselves while also operating through one cohesive vision.”

Bauman credits Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 as the most influential piece of music in his life, further reinforcing the idea that understanding music comes from having an infinite fascination with the world and with how people think and feel. It leads to one having immeasurable emotional investment in their work, which will overall strengthen its vision and quality.

“It gives me great joy to see my influence having a positive effect on others,” Bauman said. “I feel proud to see how both my work and music have inspired others to continue pursuing their careers and passions.”