About Associate Professor Neil McEwan

A passion for Neil is conducting, particularly choirs where he enjoys working with students, “to offer them a solid foundation in choral conducting and singing - research into these areas provides knowledge and understanding with an eye to historic and modern performance ideals.”

Neil McEwan is a Lecturer in Conducting and Music Education at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, whose work over many years, which resulted in his doctoral study, has been in researching performing methods, particularly in early music and Gregorian chant, “choristers and listeners are fascinated how the old tenth century medieval notational signs and letters play such an amazing interpretive role in the singing and study of Gregorian chant.”

As a choral conductor, church musician, broadcaster, performer, and researcher into Gregorian chant semiology and performance Neil continues to work on performance practice issues and ideals in his work with students.  As a cathedral chorister his passion for Gregorian chant led to further study at the celebrated Abbey of Solesmes, and at the Musikhochschule in Würzburg. He also studied orchestral conducting and advanced choral conducting techniques in Stuttgart, Berlin and at the Meistersinger Konservatorium in Nürnberg. He was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1994 for further overseas study in these areas.  Neil has been invited and given many research papers on Gregorian chant semiology for Universities and other music institutions.  He has conducted in New Zealand, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Hungary, England, Canada and the USA. As an adjudicator he has appeared on national and international panels. He specialises in Gregorian chant and Early Music performance practice. Neil recently transcribed Gregorian chants from the medieval manuscript, the 1328 Rimini Antiphonale which was on exhibition at the NSW State Library. The performing edition of these chants were sung in four sold - out concerts at the State Library in March 2008 and broadcast on ABC TV and ABC Classic FM - another concert is scheduled for June 2009.  Neil is Director of the Conservatorium Choir, Sydney Conservatorium Chamber Choir, which won prizes in the Bartok Competition and was awarded first and special prize from the city of Vienna in 2002, and the Choir of Christ Church St. Laurence, which he led on tours to New Zealand in 1991/1998 and to Germany, France and England in 1994 and 2002. In January 2007 he toured the Choir of Christ Church St. Laurence to England and the USA. The Choir was invited for the second time to be the resident choir at Westminster Abbey for ten days.  In January 2009 Neil was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to music, education and choral conducting, and was also made a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music.

Selected publications

  • Transcription of chants and performances of the Rimini Antiphonal (1328) State Library of NSW. 2008/2009
  • ‘Interpretative Signs and Letters in Gregorian chant: The rhythmic and expressive differences in the manuscript of the Cantatorium, Codex 359, St. Gall.’ Études Grégoriennes, 2005, Vol.XXXIII, pp.107-151, Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, France.
  • What Sweeter Music: Music from Advent to Epiphany, Choir of Christ Church St. Laurence. CCSL CD05 (CD released 2005)
  • The Iberian Connection, St Laurence Chamber Choir, an initiative of the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Sydney. (CD released 2004)
  • Samuel Wesley (1766-1837). A Source Book. Aldershot, 2001. ISBN 1 85928 3578. Musicology Australia: Journal of the Musicological Society of Australia, 2003, Vol. 26, p.147.
  • Requiem: Officium Defunctorum a 6 Victoria, and Gregorian Mass and Introits Choir of Christ Church St. Laurence, SLM CD 04 (CD released 2002)
  • Interpretative signs and letters in Gregorian chant: the rhythmic and expressive differences between the episema and tenete in the manuscript of the Cantatorium, Codex 359 St Gall.  (PhD dissertation, 2002)
  • Victoria: Missa surge propera, Choir of Christ Church St Laurence, CCSL CD02 (CD released 1990; re-released 1999 – nominated for ARIA award)
  • Various documentary programs as producer and presenter for ABC Classic FM
  • Pre-concert and interval talks for the SSO/ABC and Music Viva