In Memoriam: Tribute to Phil Dikeman

Jun 1, 2017 by

In Memoriam: Tribute to Phil Dikeman

Philip Dikeman, Associate Professor of Flute, was a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for almost 20 years. During his tenure with the DSO, he held the position of Assistant Principal Flute, as well as Acting Principal Flute for his final two seasons. He also appeared as concerto soloist with the DSO on numerous occasions and took part in various tours to Europe, Asia, Florida, The Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall. This current concert season of 2016-17, he was invited to assume the position of Acting Principal Flute with the Nashville Symphony.

Dikeman attended the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Robert Willoughby and received his Bachelor of Music. He received his Master of Music from the Yale School of Music, studying with Thomas Nyfenger. He was named the George Wellington Memorial Scholar for his outstanding musical and academic excellence upon completion of his degree at Yale University.

Immediately after graduation, Dikeman began his professional career when he was appointed Principal Flute of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he held for five seasons. Prior to joining the Detroit Symphony in the fall of 1992, he played Principal Flute for a short time with the San Antonio Symphony. He has also played Guest Principal Flute with both the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony, and Guest Associate Principal Flute with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

In competition, Dikeman holds the distinction of having won first prize in both the National Flute Association’s (NFA) Young Artist and Orchestral Audition Competitions.

In chamber music, Dikeman was a member of the Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings for 18 seasons. His performances with DCWS included regular appearances on their subscription series, as well as various tours including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Lucerne, Switzerland. He was also a featured performer for the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival while still a member of the DSO. He has made recital and masterclass appearances throughout the United States, including Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and Interlochen.

Dikeman is on the faculty of the Summer Arts Camp at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He has taught there for the last five seasons as a Valade Fellow, Instructor of Flute.

In 2014, he was honored to accept the role of Program Chair for the National Flute Association's 2014 Convention held in Chicago, aptly titled "Perform, Inspire, Educate!" Also, in the spring of 2015 he traveled to Berlin with the Blair Woodwind Quintet to play a concert at the invitation of the Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet.


Philip Dikeman was a close friend to many at Powell Flutes Boston.  His talent, impeccable musicianship and infectious laugh are deeply missed.

In every artist's career, there are mentors who raise up their students and drive their growth.  For Philip, it was Mr. Robert Willoughby at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and Mr. Tom Nyfenger at Yale University.  These two great men provided the foundation for Philip's career and pedagogic philosophy.  Through their teaching, Philip gained a mastery of nuanced performance which he in turn passed on to his students.

In 1998 Philip was the first place winner of the National Flute Association Young Artist Competition, seventeen years later, his student, Ramakrishnan Kumaran won first place.

To honor Philip's legacy and artistry, Powell Flutes is proud to sponsor the 2017 National Flute Association Young Artist Competition in his name.

In addition to the Young Artist Competition, Powell has underwritten a new work commissioned by Mary Kay Fink from Gary Schocker in honor of Philip.  The new work, titled "Celestial Bodies," composed for three C flutes and one alto flute, will be premiered at the 2017 National Flute Association Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Philip was a kind and generous friend and his music will always live in our hearts.

-his Powell Flutes Family


Professor Dikeman would always tell me I owed him a million dollars. He started this little joke the time we ran into each other one morning at Starbucks (surprise! imagine finding either of us there!) and he generously offered me a ride to Blair. After that, every time he answered a question or helped me out with anything, he'd grin at me and say "I'll put that on your tab, Ann! But remember, I don't take checks or credit cards!" And I would respond, “Okay, I’ll let you know when I win the lottery!”

The truth is, though, I’ve already won the lottery. Studying with him for four wonderful years was worth so much more than any sum of money. What I owe him is far greater even than the trillions of dollars I have on my “tab.” I learned so much from him - not just from our flute lessons, but also from the incredible example he set by his extraordinary kindness and warmth, his unfailing professionalism, and his tremendous strength of character.

-Ann Mozina


If anyone else had asked, I never would have agreed to be an assistant program chair. I was in my third year of teaching at a university and I was planning my wedding. This would be like having a third job! As I hesitated, Phil interrupted in his sarcastic way and said, “Oh Alice, you have to! It’ll give us an excuse to buy new wardrobes!”

I had no choice. It was Phil who was asking, a dear friend who I talked to on a weekly basis, someone who helped me acclimate to a small town in the middle of Missouri and listened to my tales of students and questions of pedagogy. We both made a career shift to teaching the same year and helped each other navigate through many things, professionally and personally.

Phil was my friend but he was also a mentor, someone who took the time to consider what piece would balance my upcoming recital program (the Taktakishvilli Sonata) and wanted to play the Doppler Rigoletto Fantasie together when he came to give a class and recital for my studio. Funny enough, he was a judge for the High School Soloist Competition when I was a finalist. We didn’t figure this out until a couple of years after becoming friends.

“OK, Phil. I’ll do it. But we have to keep laughing through the process, no matter how tough it gets.”

And we did. At one in the morning, reading through all of the proposals online, we were on the phone, laughing about an extra concert in a storage closet of the Chicago Hilton, determined we could fit all the proposals we liked into this convention.

What a beautiful flute player he was. And he could always make me laugh. I’m so lucky to have called him my friend.

-Alice K. Dade


What I will miss most about Phil in the years to come is his laugh.  And we did a lot of that together. I met Phil when we were both Oberlin students studying with Robert Willoughby. Phil, a talented pianist and double major, accompanied my flute recitals. Just about all I remember of those rehearsals is our laughter.  Some of the jokes born in those sessions have lived on all these years! After Oberlin we never resided in the same area again but we stayed in touch.

It was always a treat to see him on the occasions when circumstances would bring us together (flute conventions, an orchestra tour to Hong Kong, planned visits, etc). I remember several years ago, I was so touched when he surprised me by showing up at one of my flute recitals in Cleveland (driving in from Detroit).  Whenever we would see each other after a substantial amount of time had passed, he would always exclaim "Mary KAAAAY!!!"   It always cracked me up.  I would respond in kind, and all the time that had passed since our last visit would vanish. And then there was his beautiful flute playing, of course.  I loved playing duets with Phil whether it was for fun or a performance together. He was a great "flute-buddy,"  a dear old college pal, someone to share common concerns with throughout the years, and just a wonderful friend all around.  I miss him very much.

-Mary Kay Fink


I first met Phil in 2008, when he invited me over to his home to play duets. We clicked immediately, and we spent the afternoon laughing and indulging our nerdiness about all things flute. He offered me the opportunity to sub with the Detroit Symphony, and our friendship blossomed as we spent more time together. Playing with Phil was always deeply rewarding, both musically and personally, and as we both moved into academia, we found new ways to collaborate through recitals and masterclasses at our respective schools.

Phil played with a supreme attention to detail, a beautiful sound, and an impeccable sense of musicianship. His teaching and playing always inspired me and he constantly introduced me to new repertoire. Phil was as attentive to his friendships as his playing, and he nurtured a large and diverse group of friends, all of whom felt deeply cared for by him. He will be greatly missed.

-Sarah Frisof

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