Phillip Lopez

Class of 2016


Major(s)/minor(s) while at Millikin

Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance


Other degree(s), including awarding institutions

Master of Music in Opera Performance (2019) from Wichita State University

Master of Musical Arts in Opera (2021) from Yale University



Current employer and job title

Apprentice Artist at the Chautauqua Opera Company (June 2022-August 2022), and Studio Artist at Florida Grand Opera (October 2022-May 2023)


Why did you choose to attend Millikin?

During my Senior year of Avon High School, I wanted to attend a local liberal arts college in Central Illinois that offered rigorous courses in Music, Arts, and Literature. When I worked with Dr. Brad Holmes during the 2011 All-State Honors Choir in Peoria, Ill., I had a glimpse of the quality of instruction that was available to students at Millikin University. When I reflected more on the potential of the Music Department, especially with the communication I had with my future teacher Terry Stone, Millikin was the only choice that made sense.

What activities did you participate in while a student at Millikin?

  • Millikin Opera Theatre
  • Millikin University Choir
  • Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity Incorporated • Long-Vanderburg Scholar
  • Millikin Men Choir
  • Millikin Musicology Discussion Group
  • Society of Pi Kappa Lambda
  • Multicultural Greek Council

What are some of your accomplishments since graduating from Millikin?

  • College Light Opera Company Vocal Company (2016)
  • Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Gerdine Young Artist (2017, 2018)
  • Concerto/Aria Competition Winner at the Wichita State University School of Music (2018)
  • Runner-Up of the Naftzger Competition in Wichita, KS (2019)
  • Richard Gaddes Festival Award from Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (2019)
  • Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Richard Gaddes Artist (2019)
  • Horatio Parker Scholarship from the Yale School of Music (2019-2021)
  • Wichita Grand Opera Vocal Artist (2021)
  • Central City Opera Apprentice Artist (2021)
  • Opera Colorado Artist in Residence (2021-2022)
  • Denver District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition (2022)
  • Encouragement Award Winner of the Rocky Mountain Region of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition (2022)
  • Chautauqua Opera Company Apprentice Artist (2022)
  • Florida Grand Opera Studio Artist (2022-23)

Apart from supporting the Big Blue, what is your favorite pastime?

Playing online chess, or trying local restaurants where I currently work.

What Millikin professor or staff member made the greatest impact on you, and why?

Professor Terry Stone offered rigorous instruction while also instilling a sense of honesty and freedom in the art of singing. He noticed minute differences in his students’ performances day-to-day, and addressed problems and improvable areas with methods that instilled self-reflection. He taught me invaluable tools like relaxing before performances, structuring my singing through relaxed breathing, and being forthright in my comprehension, execution, and performance of music and theater for the remainder of my career.

What is your most memorable Millikin experience?

Spending time organizing events with my friends and brothers in Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity.

What is one concept you learned at Millikin that you use regularly?

Time management is the most important thing Millikin taught me. As a musician, one must learn how to budget their time in learning, practicing, or executing a large amount of music that they perform. Millikin taught me how to manage my time successfully in this endeavor, and how to prove to myself that my time was well spent in achieving my musical goals.

What advice would you give to current MU students about preparing for life after graduation?

My path after graduation has been extremely non-linear and impossible to predict. Being open to change is essential, so use your education and college tools to dictate your decisions in the unique path life takes you.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the Millikin community?

Thanks to my ever-supportive family, friends, and mentors, including my music teachers and professors Paula Helle, Kurt Killam, Dr. Matthew Leese, Terry Stone, Alan Held (Millikin Alum ’81), and Richard Cross. And, thanks to the Millikin University School of Music for the gift of a lifetime of music, especially to the current and former faculty Professor Terry Stone, Dr. Brad Holmes and Professor Beth Holmes, Dr. Matthew Leese, Dr. Ricardo Sepúlveda, Dr. Hadi Gibbons and Dr. Bruce Gibbons, Dr. Michael Luxner, Professor Beth Creighton, Professor Ann Borders, Professor Cynthia Oeck, Professor Ted Hesse, Dr. Guy Forbes, Dr. William Gorton, Dr. Mark Samples, and to the memory and legacy of Dr. Stephen Widenhofer.