Music at Christ Church Cathedral
The first records of music at Christ Church Cathedral date from 1835, when a barrel and finger organ was in use in the Cathedral.
Since that time there has been a long tradition of fine music-making at the Cathedral and this tradition is upheld today, providing an exciting and meaningful enhancement to worship. The full and active music programme includes three choirs, Christ Church Camerata, a Concert Series and the Friends of Christ Church Cathedral Music.
The Cathedral Choir
The Cathedral Choir forms the basis of the choral programme. Their repertoire spans from plainsong through to the present days, and includes a number of anthems, canticles and settings by local composers. In addition to this, the choir regularly sings major settings by Palestrina, Byrd, Victoria, Haydn, Schubert, Mozart, Widor and Vierne, as well as the “traditional” English repertoire of Darke, Sumsion, Stanford, Howells and others. The great orchestral settings are performed on major feast days and are accompanied by our resident orchestra, Christ Church Camerata. In recent years the choir has toured to Canberra and Melbourne and in 2011 has performed in concert with Christ Church Camerata, the highlight being the preparation of Handel’s Messiah as part of our celebration of Christmas. The choir has also undertaken to present concerts and services in the Diocese of Newcastle as part of their mission to support parishes outside of the Cathedral community. The choir is currently producing its first commercial recording under their current director, Peter Guy, which includes the world premiere recording of Grayston Ives’ Evening Service in D.
The Cathedral Choral Scholars
The Choral Scholars membership is drawn from high school and university students. The Scholars form a core group within the Cathedral Choir, and gain practical experience in choral singing and its associated aural, vocal and musical skills. Many scholars have gone on to high profile professional careers in music. The youthful sound of the Scholars is occasionally drawn on to sing for regular liturgies or other special services.
The St Nicholas Choir
The St Nicholas Choir is a training choir for children aged 8 and up. The choir sings for the regular “Family” services at the Cathedral and prove a very popular choice for weddings.
During rehearsals, choristers not only receive tuition on vocal technique, but also basic musicianship and aural skills. Many St Nicholas choristers have gone on to become regular members of the Cathedral Choir.
The Cathedral Organ
The Cathedral Organ is one of the finest organs in Australia. The original organ, of which the pipework forms the basis of the present instrument, was built in 1906 by Norman and Beard (UK). The organ was rebuilt in 1963 by J.W. Walker & Sons, and most recently (1997-1998) has undergone refurbishment and the addition of several ranks of pipes, including a 32' Double Ophicleide. The organ contains 2,471 pipes, 58 stops, 13 couplers and two tremulants, and is maintained by Peter D.G. Jewkes Pty. Ltd. For a full history and specification of the organ, visit The Organ Historical Trust of Australia website
Our Music Staff
Mr Peter Guy, Organist and Master of the Choristers
Peter Guy is the youngest person to be appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle. Prior to this, Peter was Director of Music at St Stephen's Uniting Church, Macquarie St, Sydney. He is also the inaugural Director of Chapel Music at St Andrew's College within the University of Sydney.
Peter studied for his Bachelor of Music (majoring in pipe organ and choral conducting under Philip Matthias) at The University of Newcastle, which he received with first class honours and the University Medal. Peter was also the recipient of many awards and scholarships. Peter has also been awarded his AMusA (piano) and the Archbishop’s Certificate in Church Music.
In 2003, Peter reached the national keyboard final of the Symphony Australia Young Performers Award, where he played Poulenc's Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani in g minor with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Rumon Gamba. This performance was broadcast on ABC Classic FM.
Peter has toured internationally with the University of Newcastle Chamber Choir on two occasions, playing in venues in France and the UK including St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Southwark Cathedral, London, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, as well as many venues through South Korea. Subsequently he was broadcast on BBC3 radio's Sunday Half Hour program in the UK and also performed for two Korean television stations.
In 2009, Peter released his first solo organ CD Organ Classics from Newcastle Cathedral. This CD features the world premiere recording of Introduction, Pastoral and Fugue on “Leoni” by former Cathedral organist, Keith Noake.
Peter enjoys an active recital schedule, performing at venues in Newcastle, Canberra, Adelaide, The Barossa Valley, and Brisbane, as well as many other non-metropolitan areas. He has performed in the USA on a number of occasions, twice for the Organ Historical Society (including the opening recital of that organisation’s 2010 Annual Conference in Pittsburgh).
Dr Keith Murree-Allen, Assistant Organist
Keith Murree-Allan studied organ with the late Keith Noake at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle. Whilst studying Medicine at Sydney University, he was University Organ Scholar, being required to give organ recitals in the Great Hall each term. These recitals were broadcast live on the ABC. He was also accompanist to the Sydney University Musical Society under George Faunce-Allman. Keith has been associated with the Cathedral and its music since 1952, and Acting Organist between appointments of successive cathedral organists. In 1981 he followed Michael Dudman as Cathedral Organist and Master of the Choristers, a position Keith held until 1983 when he was granted the title Organist Emeritus at the Cathedral. Since then he has continued to play at the Cathedral regularly and has been accompanist to Newcastle University Choir for many years. He is also the conductor of The Tudor Singers. Keith is a respiratory physician at the John Hunter Hospital.
Callum Close, Organ scholar
Callum Close (b. 1991) began musical studies at a young age. Upon completing the HSC in 2009, he entered into the Bachelor of Music program at the University of Newcastle, studying a performance major in Pipe Organ with Dr. Philip Matthias. His musical interests lay in Church Music and Choral Conducting. As an Organist, Callum has held the position of Organ Scholar at Adamstown Uniting Church and Assistant Organist at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, along with his current position at Christ Church Cathedral.
As a Chorister, he has travelled internationally with the University of Newcastle Chamber Choir to the World Choir Games in Shaoxing, China (2010) as well as being a member of the Sydney Philharmonia Chamber Singers and the Brisbane-based Australian Voices, of whom he was the ensembles Conductor-in-Training for 2012. He has studied conducting with Dr David Banney, and in 2013 attended the inaugural Gondwana National Conducting Academy, studying Choral conducting intensively with Graeme Morton.
Siobhàn Mackey, Director - St Nicholas Choir
Siobhàn Mackey has enjoyed music from an early age, commencing her first lessons in violin at the age of 4, and subsequently learning voice, piano and theory. At the age of 8, Siobhàn joined the Australian Rosny Children’s Choir in which she remained for 15 years, progressing from a singer and soloist, to Tutor and Director of the Training Choir, and finally Assistant to the Director of the Choir.
Siobhàn studied singing at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, graduating with a Diploma and Bachelor of Music in singing. During her studies, Siobhàn was a member of The Southern Gospel Choir and performed in the Tasmanian Conservatorium Opera production of Suor Angelica. Siobhàn’s passion for singing and choral music has seen her direct the Choir of Sacred Heart Parish Church, Hobart, and the Hobart Gregorian Scholar – directing this choir in a workshop with Dr Neil McEwan. She was also Assistant Director for the Tasmanian University Musical Society and sang as part of the auditioned Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Chorus.
Since relocating to Newcastle in 2006, Siobhàn has been a Sectional Leader of the award winning University of Newcastle Chamber Choir, appearing on television (Channel 7’s popular Battle of the Choirs production), in recording and touring internationally to the UK and China. She has sung with renowned musicians including Michael Crawford, Iain Grandaige and Iva Davies (with his band Ice House). She is a member of the Christ Church Cathedral Choir and is the Director of the St Nicholas Choir, the Cathedral’s youth choir giving the vocal, ensemble and musicianship skills required to be a member of the Cathedral Choir
Friends of Newcastle Cathedral Music
The Friends of Newcastle Cathedral Music exist to provide practical and financial support to the music programme of the Cathedral – including the Cathedral Choirs, Organists and Christ Church Camerata, regular concerts, orchestral masses and special music events, as well as assisting with significant maintenance projects of the Cathedral’s piano and organ. The Friends consist of Cathedral parishioners, visitors, former choristers, and those with an interest in maintaining the Cathedral’s fine tradition of music within this Cathedral Church, Diocese and City.
In recent years The Friends have successfully fundraised to ensure the continuation of the Cathedral scholarship programme, the addition of a digital 32’ rank for the Cathedral Organ, the purchase of a new digital organ for rehearsals, the purchase of new music and robes for the choir, and to support our younger choristers in attending church music summer schools and to further their study in church music. The Friends play an important role in continuing the musical life of this Cathedral, and supporting the development of young musicians.
By becoming a Friend of Newcastle Cathedral Music, you are supporting one of the longest serving musical traditions in the city of Newcastle and the Hunter Region. You are also helping to maintain a tradition firmly entrenched in the finest of the Cathedral choral tradition, but one that also seeks to expand and embrace what traditional Cathedral worship might look like from our twenty-first century, Australian perspective. You are helping to maintain the standard of music produced in our Diocese and City, but most importantly, you are supporting the ministry and outreach of this Cathedral, as it seeks to proclaim the gospel within the community. Donations above $2 are tax deductible.
Download a membership/donation form here