This page is dedicated to two special children, Connor and Laura Wilcher.
“It is refreshing to find Phillip Wilcher composing quality music for this very special market. A MUSICAL OFFERING is so very appropriate for the young and commendable for its originality and captivating melodies.”
M.A; Dip. Mus. Ed; A.T.C.L; T.Mus.A:
Dip. Kodaly Inst. (Hungary); Lic. Dalc.
Euryth; M.I.M.T; M.A.C.E.
“Phillip Wilcher’s A MUSICAL OFFERING is an ingenious and imaginative approach to music. Through rhythm and rhyme, movement and sound, the very young person is gently introduced to music as an enjoyable activity. This will provide a wonderful foundation for a lifetime of musical experience and richness.”
Dulcie Holland A.M; F.T.C.L.
“I am delighted with this music. It will appeal to children of all ages, and will challenge them in exciting ways. Phillip has a keen sense of the developing musical perceptions of children.”
Laurie Le Claire, Ph.D., L.T.C.L
Institute of Early Childhood
“This is an interesting lesson plan for those wishing to introduce young children, either singly or in classes, to music. Six different activities for the pre-school or kindergarten child are matched to music, thus increasing the child’s awareness of music as a form of self expression.”
The Australian Society of Keyboard Music
Here are some children’s verses from Phillip’s “A Musical Offering”
HIPPITY HOP, CLIPPITY CLOP
Meow bow moo wow wow,
A horse and a cat of course,
But a dog who thinks he’s a cow?
THE CUCKOO AND THE OWL
“Cuckoo” went my grandfather clock,
“Hoot-hoot” answered owl who was not,
For each thought the other
One and the same,
Though feathers apart
And of a different name,
Continued to note
The hours pass by,
Until it was nightfall
And owl had to fly:
“ING” or “ONG”
No wrong! ring-a-dong.
No wrong! sing-a-song.
Frogs say “rib-it”,
Rip it up, that sounds wrong,
But it’s just a fun idea
For a rhythmic sing!
You mean a rhythmic song!
Yes, that I do, on “ta’s” and “ti-ti’s”,
Just a little song that’s not too ling!
A beautiful home
Like honey comb,
The Queen Bee’s in her suite,
With the warmth of summer
On her wings,
She’s dainty on her feet.
Tonight she’ll dance the minuet
At the grandest ball in town,
A dance we’ll learn and won’t forget,
Listen, here’s how it sounds.
While the Queen Bee’s getting ready
Her drones are buzzing around,
It’s a whirlwind of a noise we’ll hear,
A fuzzy kind of sound.
They’re decking the halls with pollen,
Golden dust from purple blooms,
And scattering pink rose petals
Throughout the palace rooms.
Everyone was having fun
Dancing together or alone,
But then a wicked wasp did come
to steal the Queen Bee’s thrown
He prowled about the corridors,
Inch by inch by ounce,
But the drones came to the rescue
And shooed him with a pounce.
So ends this tale of a grand affair
On a happy note and tune,
Let’s now dance again the minuet
Beneath a honeyed moon.
He might have missed out on international fame and fortune, but ex-Wiggle Phillip Wilcher has no regrets. In a rare interview, he talks to Cheryl Critchley about leaving the skivvies behind : Cheryl Critchley of the Herald Sun interviews The Fifth Man:
Jeff, Anthony, Murray, Greg and Phillip. Phillip who?
Few fans of Australia’s biggest kiddie export, The Wiggles, would know that the original band had five members. Or that, in the early days they didn’t wear skivvies.
The Wiggles’ 1991 debut CD, The Wiggles, featured Jeff Fatt, Anthony Field, Murray Cook, Greg Page and Phillip Wilcher – in loud shirts. While he hasn’t raked in millions like his former bandmates, Sydney-based Wilcher says he is happy composing highly regarded classical music.
He still works at Macquarie University where he met Field, Cook and Page. They were studying early childhood development and he worked with the Early Childhood Music Program. The band was Field’s idea and Wilcher says he approached him and the others. Field knew Fatt from their days with late 1980s band The Cockroaches.
Wilcher, who appeared on a couple of early videos, left after the first album. He says he left as a performer around September 1991, because “I wasn’t comfortable performing with them”. But he thought he had a verbal agreement to work on the second CD. “It was at some stage verbally suggested I remain as a composer for the group and I had written a sizeable portfolio of works for their second CD. I went to the States to perform in May of 1992. On my return, the second album had been recorded and I was informed by Anthony Field that I was no longer required,” he recalls.
That first album has since been re-recorded without Wilcher. Wiggle Time features some of the original songs, like Rock-a-Bye Your Bear and Dorothy the Dinosaur, but has mostly new tracks. “I don’t know if the original album as it was recorded can be purchased anywhere,” Wilcher says. “It was re-recorded around 1998-99 and released under a new title. I did, however, pick up a copy of the original album from a Cash Converters store for seven dollars.”
The Wiggles’ management declined to comment on Wilcher’s departure and why he was “let go”. “I don’t think my classical background was at all too serious.” Wilcher says of his departure. “I contributed the most to the debut album which at that time landed the group a contract with the ABC to produce a further two CDs. I believe at that time it was the goal of the group to focus on developmentally appropriate material for children. Such was their education at university in early childhood music – and such was my know-how.”
Wilcher is critical of mass market children’s entertainment. He also prefers High-5 over his old band. “I don’t understand ‘big money commercial entertainment’,” he says. “I only understand truth in all things. Composing can be very difficult, or it can be very easy. My concerns are that a composer – any composer – be articulate and true. I very much admire the work of High-5. They successfully explore the five various components that come together to make music: rhythm, beat, melody, harmony and timbre. And they do it in a way which is fresh and entertaining and always intelligent.”
A well -respected composer, mostly of piano music, Wilcher says classical music is, and always has been, his first love. “More than that, I believe in the real thing whether it be the cavernous icons of the Stone Age or the music of J.S. Bach, a free hand sketch by Jean Cocteau or the choreography of Martha Graham or Graeme Murphy, the vocalizations of Janet Baker or Jeff Buckley. This does not include The Wiggles – sorry guys!”
Respect doesn’t pay the bills, however, and Wilcher, who is single, admits his chosen career path is hardly lucrative.
“One of Australia’s most respected composers said to me the other day that the only good composer is a dead composer. It is very difficult to make a living as a composer, but any composer – any real composer, is not motivated by money. I have never wished to be a Wiggle. I am an artist. Making money – especially wads of cash – is the least of my concerns.”
As for royalties from his Wiggles CD go, Wilcher doesn’t get overly excited when he receives a cheque. “My last cheque was around $5.67. It was a difficult decision deciding whether to bank the cheque or sell it. I probably would have gotten more had I sold it.”
Wilcher isn’t bitter about his Wiggles experience, but admits he hasn’t kept in contact with his former bandmates.
While most of today’s fans wouldn’t remember his time with the group, he has been noticed in the street. “I was once recognized in our local Movies 4 U video store,” he recalls. “It was funny. This guy with muscle to Montezuma excused himself and said : “Are you a Wiggle?”
So what colour skivvy would Wilcher have worn if he’d stayed with the band? “I’d be the black Wiggle!” he laughs.
The Herald Sun
The Wiggle who wouldn’t : One goes classical
His old mates jump around in colorful T-shirts, singing tunes titled “Romp Bomp a Stomp” and “Hot Potato”.
Meanwhile, he sports a brocade-collared tuxedo and bow tie, composes sonatas for the piano, and writes scholarly articles such as “Chopin’s Mazurka in F minor Op. 68, No. 4 (An Analysis).”
Remember the fifth Beatle? Actually, a handful of men lay claim to that title, but among them was bass guitarist and artist Stuart Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe amicably left The Beatles to concentrate on his artwork.
And, in the beginning (in 1991), there was a fifth Wiggle – Phillip Wilcher – who also was called by a different muse.
Wilcher had a background in early childhood education and worked in the music department at Sydney’s Macquarie University, The Wiggles’ Liverpool. A year after the release of the “Wiggle Time “ cassette, Wilcher left to follow his own star : classical music. Now, 44, he lives in Australia and composes works largely for piano and voice. While The Wiggles have achieved gold and platinum albums and won repeated honors from the Australian Record Industry Association and the Australian Performing Rights Association, Wilcher has racked up his own accolades and gold and platinum ARIA awards.
“No, we haven’t really spoken for years and years,” says The Wiggles founder, Anthony Field, who calls the former Wiggle “a brilliant pianist and composer.”
Wilcher left before The Wiggles had really gone anywhere, Field says. “I’m not sure his heart was so into where we were heading.”
Last December, The (Melbourne) Herald Sun printed an article asking, “Where are you Philip (sic) Wilcher……” and razzing the bloke about leaving a group that’s raking in millions.
Well, no wonder Wilcher didn’t answer, with their misspelling his first name.
He’s not exactly underground; his biography is posted on the Australian Music Centre Web site, www.amcoz.com.au/comp/w/pwilch.htm.
From the sounds of it, Wilcher’s personality would have been a wobbly fit with the full-blown Wiggles. Two of his children’s pieces were included in an Australian piano CD recorded in 2001. Titles: “ A Winter Reverie” and “Summer Dance”. That summer dance was likely not on the order of “Can You Point Your Finger and Do the Twist?”
To each, his own. So The Wiggles who kept wiggling, and to the fifth who moved on, we say: Good on ya, mate!