Dr Philip Matthias PhD, B Mus (Hons), FRCO (CHM), ARCM, Hon FGCM 

Philip Matthias was born in Sydney and as a youngster sang in the Choir of St. James Church, Sydney, under the direction of Walter Sutcliffe. He won a Commonwealth Scholarship to attend Sydney University, where he commenced study as a composer. In second year at University he changed his major study to the pipe organ, becoming Organ Scholar at Sydney University.

After graduating, he went to England to further his studies at the Royal College of Music, London. He performed as organist in many venues in the UK, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, Westminster Abbey and King’s College, Cambridge. He was awarded the Royal College of Organists Fellowship Diploma, and the John Brook Memorial Prize for the highest marks for its choir training diploma (CHM).

Philip’s training and employment in the UK included directing Royal School of Church Music national children’s and adult courses, being tutor to the London Boys’ Choir, and as Director of Music at Lingfield Parish Church and St Mary the Virgin, Ewell, Surrey.

Returning to Australia, he became Director of Music and Organist and Master of the Choristers at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle. Some years later the music at the Cathedral was recognised by the former Warden of the Guild of Church Musicians, the Very Reverend Richard Fenwick, as the ‘envy of most Cathedrals in the UK’ due to the ‘creativity, energy and strength of the music program’. Philip was founder of the Cathedral’s Choral Scholars and Newcastle Cathedral Music Festival.

He directed Royal School of Church Music courses in Australia and New Zealand. Philip was also at this time a Correspondent for The Royal College of Organists, and Representative of The Friends of Cathedral Music, UK, and an RSCM Australia Representative. He is currently a member of the Australian Council of the Guild of Church Musicians and Vice President of the Guild of Church Musicians (UK).  

During this time Philip was also Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Newcastle, and Director of the University’s Chamber Choir, Echology. Under his direction, the choir won numerous national eisteddfods including the Open National Choral Championships and the Sydney Eisteddfod Australasian Open Choral Championships. Echology won the ABC Choir of the Year Adult Choir, and Channel Seven’s Battle of the Choirs. The choir won first prizes at the 2010 World Choir Games in the Open Mixed Choirs and Musica Contemporanea divisions. Echology was ranked sixth in the world by Musica Mundi, based on international competition results, and performed in many Cathedrals including St. Paul’s, London, Westminster Abbey, Notre Dame, Paris, and the Vatican, and broadcast live twelve Daily Services for BBC Radio. In 2013 Echology was an invited guest at the International Festival of Sacred Music and Art, held in Rome, where it performed alongside the Sistine Chapel Choir and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Philip’s choral conducting experience includes performances with St John’s College Cambridge Choir, the Sistine Chapel Choir, Guild of Church Musicians choirs in Canterbury Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Temple Church London, Voces Sacrae (UK), United Nations choirs in Geneva and New York, and in Australia with the Song Company, the Sydney Philharmonia Choir, St. Andrew’s Cathedral Choir, amongst others. In regard to Catholic liturgical settings he has worked in venue including St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, St. Peter’s Basilica, Assisi Cathedral, and Sant' Ignazio, Rome.

In 2015 and 2016 Philip presented a symposium at the United Nations World Youth Assembly in New York, and in collaboration with David Leha, a Gamilaraay man, wrote and performed the song ‘Louder than words’ for the closing ceremony of the Youth Assembly in the UN General Assembly Hall. Philip is currently working with Leha on a Create NSW funded project, The Yanaya (‘returning’) Project.

In Newcastle and Townsville Philip and his family are privileged to collaborate closely with Torres Strait Islander communities, working closely with Toby and Tat Whaleboat, and Fr Elimo Tapim and Beimop Tapim, amongst others. This connection has led to Philip being with members of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on a broader basis. These associations and friendships are now integral to Philip’s cultural and spiritual journey. He acknowledges the long history of this Country, its song, culture, traditions and its peoples, and the threads that bind us together as contemporary Australians.

Philip is the recipient of the University of Newcastle’s Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence and Learning Support, presented to the most outstanding candidate from across the University. He is the recipient of the Newton John Award (the Convocation Award from University of Newcastle), and an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Award for Teaching Excellence fordeveloping a vibrant and creative culture of choral and organ music that inspires and motivates students to perform professionally at international levels’.