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 New South Wales, Wollongong, and the Sydney College of Divinity. His doctorate is in music for the church and 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 Assistant Director of Music at St James' Church, Sydney and Lecturer in Church Music at St John's Theological College, Morpeth. He is presently Director of The Cathedral Singers. Brett has taught music at primary, secondary and tertiary levels, although, now focuses on tertiary teaching. McKern has lived most of his life in Sydney but spent two and a half years in England when he was Head of Chapel Music and Organist at a public school. McKern is also presently Chair of the Australian Advisory Council of the Guild of Church Musicians.
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; and the requiem Missa Omnis Anima for St James' Church, King Street, Sydney. His orchestral arrangements include several versions for choir and orchestra, and orchestral alone 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; and a change ring for handbells. Other works have been diverse, ranging from an organ concerto to a trio for descant recorders!
McKern believes that writing in a tonal style is not a retrogressive step. His music pays hommage to the Romantics, yet happily includes developments of the twentieth century, though not rejecting forms and genres of earlier periods.
See all works by Brett in our shop