The building of St Patrick's Cathedral, its liturgy and its music speak of timeless values that are ever expressed in new ways, though invariably rooted in tradition. Let these stones resound with joy for many centuries longer!
The St Patrick's Cathedral Choir sings on Sundays at the 11am Mass and the Cathedral Singers at the 6.30pm Mass. Music is led by a cantor at the Saturday 6pm (Vigil) and Sunday 9.30am Masses.
Music at St Patrick's Cathedral is coordinated by Dr Philip Matthias, PhD, B Mus (Hons), FRCO (CHM), ARCM, Hon FGCM, who joined the Cathedral in 2020. Philip is the Conductor of St Patrick’s Cathedral Choir and a Vice President of the Guild of Church Musicians (UK).
Born in Sydney, Philip was a chorister in the Choir of St James' Church, Sydney, under the direction of Walter Sutcliffe. He won a Commonwealth Scholarship to Sydney University, becoming Organ Scholar there. He furthered his studies at the Royal College of Music, London, and 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 was a tutor to the London Boys’ Choir, Director of Music at Lingfield Parish Church and St Mary the Virgin, Ewell, Surrey, and conductor and assistant of Royal School of Church Music courses.
Returning to Australia, he became Director of Music and Organist at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle. The music at the Cathedral was later recognised as the ‘envy of most Cathedrals in the UK’ by the former Warden of the Guild of Church Musicians, the Very Reverend Richard Fenwick, due to the ‘creativity, energy and strength of the music program’. In Newcastle Philip was also Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Newcastle, and Director of the University’s Chamber Choir, Echology, which choir won numerous national eisteddfods, 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.
In Newcastle and Townsville and more recently in Melbourne, 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, Beimop Tapim and John Parsons 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 He is a recipient of the Newton John Award, and the Australian Learning and Teaching Council Award for Teaching Excellence for ‘developing a vibrant and creative culture of choral and organ music that inspires and motivates students to perform professionally at international levels’.
St Patrick's Cathedral is proud to open its doors to the community and offer an experience of the sacred through uplifting music from some of Australia's most talented musicians. Book your tickets online today.
The Cathedral Organ was built by George Fincham & Sons, Melbourne in 1962-64. It incorporates a substantial part of the instrument built in the West gallery of the Cathedral in the late 1870s by Robert Mackenzie and completed in 1880 by George Fincham. Refurbished with additions by Australian Pipe Organs, Melbourne in 1996-97, it is used for occasional recitals and recordings, as well as serving the regular liturgical needs of the Cathedral.
The specification of the organ comprises 81 speaking stops spread over four manuals and pedals. Some of the stops can be dated to 1880 or 1896, when the instrument was enlarged. Several new stops were added in 1997 at the time of the centenary of the Cathedral.
From Eucharistic celebrations to weddings, funerals, papal visits and jubilees, the bells have signalled countless moments of significance in the life of the local Church of Melbourne. On 29 January 2022, members of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Bellringers (ANZAB) climbed the narrow stairs of St Patrick’s Cathedral’s south tower to play almost an hour of synchronised bell ringing. The occasion marked the 170th anniversary of the casting of the bells by the Murphy foundry. The bells are believed to be one of the last remaining sets still in operation around the world.
These days, locals can hear the bell ringers practice every Tuesday from 5pm, and for service ringing prior to the 11am Mass on Sundays and other special occasions.