Dr Brett McKern is a composer, conductor, organist, and academic. He holds degrees in music, education, theology and two doctorates in musical composition. He also holds diplomas from the Guild of Church Musicians, the Royal College of Organists, Trinity College of Music, London, and the Australian Music Examinations Board in organ, composition, music theory and musicianship.
Brett is an award-winning composer (Australia & Canada) of church and organ music and his music has been performed in Australia, the UK, Belgium, Germany, France, and the USA. His organ solos have been performed at such prestigious venues as Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral, London; Sint-Rombout’s Cathedral, Mechelen, Belgium; and Washington National Cathedral. His choral compositions have been performed at venues such as Westminster Abbey, York Minster, and Ely Cathedral. His music has been broadcast on radio in Victoria, Queensland and NSW. Brett has published over sixty compositions in Australia and abroad. While his overall output is varied, a number of his works show the influence of his interest in the liturgy of the Anglican and Catholic traditions as well as in Baroque music. Brett has adjudicated multiple composition competitions, and is a Represented Composer of the Australian Music Centre. Recent commissions have included solo organ works as well as choral works for the Song Company and Trinity Grammar Preparatory School Choir.
As an academic, Brett has worked at the Universities of Sydney, Wollongong, and Western Sydney; lectured at theological college, and has been Adjunct Associate Professor of Music at Central Queensland University. His publications, in addition to musical compositions, include reviews of concerts and CDs for journals, and articles on church music and composition. Brett is called on as an examiner of university theses, compositions and performances, and examines written music subjects in NSW and online and diplomas for the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB). He is also an S.S. Wesley and Herbert Howells scholar. Brett’s private students have gone on to read for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at various conservatoria and universities in Australia and abroad, and a number are now professional musicians.
As an organist Brett has been broadcast on radio and recorded for DVD, CD and film. He makes a specialty of improvisation at the organ. As a choir director he has performed extensively in Australia, Germany and the UK: in many Australian churches and cathedrals, as well as places such as York Minster, Westminster Abbey, and St Paul’s Cathedral, London. He has been Organist and Director of Music at St John’s Church, Gordon NSW since 2008.
Brett is passionate about adding to the corpus of Australian organ and choral music as can be seen by his compositional output, and by the number of new choral works he has commissioned from other Australian composers. An ardent supporter of the pipe organ and church music, Brett has served on the committees of the RSCM (Royal School of Church Music), Organ Music Society of Sydney, and the Guild of Church Musicians, serving as the latter’s national Chair for ten years and now as Director of Studies in Australia and New Zealand. He has served on the committees or as consultant for multiple pipe organ restorations or rebuilds in Australia and the UK.
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