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Philip Dikeman (1963-2017)

Alice K. Dade | July 2017

    Philip Dikeman, a distinguished flutist who held principal positions in major orchestras for over twenty years, passed away on April 20th, 2017, after a second battle with cancer. He was 54 years old. A native of Wayne, Michigan, Dikeman began his undergraduate studies at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music as a double major in flute and piano, studying flute with Robert Willoughby. He would often play piano for flute studio members’ performances but eventually decided to focus on flute.
    As he began his graduate studies at the Yale School of Music, Dikeman thrived as a student of Thomas Nyfenger. He was named the George Wellington Memorial Scholar for his outstanding musical and academic excellence. Dikeman’s fellow classmates have said that Nyfenger once told him, “I have nothing more to say. You have mastered the instrument.”  
    Upon graduation from Yale, Dikeman was appointed principal flute of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, a position he held for five years. While based in Hong Kong, Dikeman won both the National Flute Association Orchestral Audition Competition (1986) and the Young Artist Competition (1989).
    Determined to return to the United States, he recorded orchestral excerpts and sent them through the mail for friends and mentors to critique. This proved to be successful as he won the principal flute position with San Antonio Symphony in 1992. Shortly after, he also won assistant principal flute with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a position he would have for almost twenty years, including two seasons as acting principal.
    During his tenure with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Dikeman performed five concerti with the orchestra, including Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 5. He also performed in Europe and Carnegie Hall as a member of the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings. During the summer months, Dikeman performed at several NFA Conventions including the 1996 convention in New York where he played Gary Schocker’s In the Air with Gary Schocker on piano. Dikeman also performed as guest principal flute with the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, and as guest associate principal of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
    In 2011, Dikeman accepted a position as professor of flute at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, obtaining tenure after his first year of teaching. In 2014, Dikeman was appointed the NFA Chicago Convention Program Chair.
    Throughout his time at Vanderbilt, Dikeman was a featured guest artist of universities, conservatories, and flute associations, including the Chicago Flute Club, Mid-South Flute Festival, Cleveland Institute of Music, and The University of Kansas. As a faculty member at Interlochen Arts Camp, Dikeman was a Valade Fellow, Instructor of Flute. His student from Vanderbilt, Ramakrishnan Kumaran, was the winner of the 2015 NFA Young Artist Competition.
    In the 2016/17 season, Dikeman was invited to perform as guest principal flute of the Nashville Symphony while continuing to teach at Vanderbilt. Dikeman was also a Powell Artist. His favorite music to play included Chaminade’s Serenade aux Etoiles, Op. 142, and Poulenc’s Sonata for Flute and Piano. His recent interview in Flute Talk may be found at: