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Brett McKern : Represented Artist

McKern's music is tonal but contemporary, approachable but considered.

Random Audio Sample: Praise the Lord : soprano voice with piano by Brett McKern, from the CD Simply songs

Photo of Brett McKern

Photo: Jan Kneeshaw

Dr Brett McKern was born in Sydney in 1972. He was schooled at Newington College, Sydney, where he was influenced by the fine chapel music tradition there. He read music, theology and education at the Universities of Sydney, New South Wales, Wollongong, and the Sydney College of Divinity, and holds two doctorates in musical composition. He also holds diplomas from the Guild of Church Musicians, the Royal College of Organists, Trinity College London, and the Australian Music Examinations Board.

McKern is a professional musician, performing as an organist and conductor, and has held a number of church music appointments such as Organist and Director of Music at St John's Church, Gordon NSW, Assistant Director of Music at St James' Church, Sydney, and Lecturer in Church Music at St John's Theological College, Morpeth. He is also a lecturer and academic, and has worked at the Universities of Sydney, Wollongong, Western Sydney and Central Queensland. McKern has lived most of his life in Sydney, but spent two and a half years in England when he was Organist and Head of Chapel Music at a public school.

The rich liturgical and musical traditions of the Anglican and Catholic Churches have been McKern's greatest influences, and this is reflected in his compositions, many of which are for choir with or without organ. These influences and opportunities have resulted in works such as Veni Creator Spiritus, written for the consecration of an Anglican Bishop at St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney; When an Angel Came, an Annunciation carol for Trent College Chapel Choir, UK; the requiem Missa Omnis Anima for St James' Church, King Street, Sydney, and Ein Feste Burg for The Song Company. Other choral works have been performed at Westminster Abbey, York Minster, St Edmundsbury, Ely, Leicester and other English cathedrals.

His orchestral arrangements include several versions for choir and/or orchestra of Good King Wenceslas for both Trent College and the King's School. Other commissions have included works for parish choirs such as All Saints' Hunters Hill in Sydney; a sonata for cor anglais; a change ring for handbells, and a choral work for The Song Company. Other works have been diverse, ranging from an organ concerto to a trio for descant recorders! He has also composed several works for carillon.

As an organist himself, McKern is one of a relatively small number of contemporary Australian composers writing solo organ works, and these have been performed in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and further afield in such prestigious venues as Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral in London, Washington National Cathedral, and in the USA and Belgium.

McKern's music is tonal but contemporary, approachable but considered.

Brett McKern — current to July 2017

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Praise the Lord : equal voice with accompaniment Commissioned for publication in 'Church Music Notes'. Sydney: Uniting Church in Australia NSW Synod
Digital sheet music sample All Creation Praise : SSA choir and piano (2018) Commissioned by Mrs Nicole Smeulders for the Choir of Trinity Grammar Preparatory School, Sydney
Gordon Service : Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in F (2018) Composed for the St John's Evensong Choir, Church of St John the Evangelist, Gordon, NSW.
Ein' Feste Burg : SATB choir with chamber ensemble (2017) Commissioned by The Song Company.
Digital sheet music sample Missa Brevis : for SATB choir (2017) Commissioned by Bransby Byrne for the Braybn Singers
Digital sheet music sample Celestial mysteries : for unison voices with optional descant, or SATB with organ (2015) Composed for the '8am Singers', Church of St John the Evangelist, Gordon NSW, Christmas 2015