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Dr Philip Matthias

Senior Lecturer

School of Creative Arts (Music)

Cultivating community through music revitalisation

For the Torres Strait Islander (TSI) community, music helps to articulate the concepts and embodied experiences of their lives. Despite its significance to the culture, there is a fragmented and under-developed approach to the documentation and cultivation of music.

"Our songs play a big part in overcoming the hurt of oppression and dispossession," TSI community member Mr Toby Whaleboat said. "The lyrics in many of the TSI worship songs are about finding hope, freedom, strength, love and especially forgiveness. All of these values aid in strengthening the family and community faith that one day there will be justice and equality."

In 2014, the Faculty of Education and Arts funded a new Strategic Network, titled, Torres Strait Islander sacred music: protection, cultivation and revitalisation.Dr Philip Matthias

Led by Dr Philip Matthias, the Network includes: Toby Whaleboat, Dr Jocelyn McKinnon, Dr Catherine Grant, and Dr Karl Neuenfeldt (Central Queensland University). They will work to protect, cultivate and revitalise TSI music and musical practices in close collaboration with representatives from the TSI community.

 "One thing I've learned about music is that it can reconcile and bring people together," Whaleboat said. "Indigenous music is our history. It's where we come from and gives us a sense of belonging to country; a sense of who we are as an identity – an Australian identity."

Along with research into performance practices, cultural contexts, and history, one of the Network's projects includes the analysis and transcription of sacred TSI music recordings held digitally in Canberra at the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies archives.

During 2014, Network members were involved in a number of workshops with people from the TSI community, and Matthias has begun transcribing TSI songs that have previously never been written down.

 "I handwrite all the music, and we constantly make changes as we sing it with different people and at different events. Once all the recording and transcribing is done, this resource will be available to the community," Matthias said.

"One of our aims is to look at the history of the songs. We would like to look at where and what this music comes from; what are the roots underpinning these songs."

During 2015, the Network will develop several existing pilot projects to their next stages, in relation to documentation, performance, education, and community engagement.TSI Sacred Music Research Network

"We will run a number of workshops in Newcastle and Townsville with young people, both TSI and non-Indigenous, to teach them these songs, so they get to express themselves in similar ways about their own culture," Matthias said.

Matthias and Whaleboat will also work towards the publication of traditional and contemporary sacred TSI texts and music, including new works that will incorporate both English language and the native TSI Meriam Mir language.

"Many churches today sing songs in English, so to keep our language alive we sing at home where we hold family gatherings. We sing these songs so our sons and daughters will remember and pass them on to their children," Whaleboat said.

Matthias believes we should look to New Zealand as an example of a more integrated music culture.

"In New Zealand, it's very common to have Maori text in songs, especially in church music, but we don't do that in Australia," Matthias said. "There is currently no line between who we are and where we are living."

There will also be a symposium during 2015 where members of the Network, guest scholars and members of the TSI community will come together in Newcastle.

This is part of a larger emerging research focus in the School of Creative Arts on Australian Indigenous music and culture, which over the last 24 months has seen Creative Arts staff and students become increasingly active in learning and teaching, and research and performance in areas of Aboriginal and TSI music and culture.

Image from left: Dr Jocelyn McKinnon, Dr Ray Kelly and Associate Professor Maree Gruppetta from UON's Wollotuka Institute, Dr Philip Matthias, and Dr Catherine Grant, Birabhan building, Callaghan campus

That's Music to my ears - Philip Mattias

Cultivating community through music revitalisation

For the Torres Strait Islander (TSI) community, music helps to articulate the concepts and embodied experiences of their lives. Despite its significance...

Read more

That's music to my ears

Leading the University of Newcastle Chamber Choir to a win in the keenly watched Battle of the Choirs national television series in 2008 had unexpected but welcome consequences for the choral group's director, Dr Philip Matthias.

Dr Philip Matthias Not only did it bring the choir well deserved acclaim, the win proved to be the catalyst for interesting research developments that the Senior Lecturer and founder of the University's Church Music Studies is now pursuing.

As an organist, composer and choral director, Matthias has performed in some of the world's most revered places of worship, including Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral in London and Notre Dame in Paris.

But one of his passions is developing a repertoire of liturgical music that is uniquely Australian. The surge of interest in choir singing that accompanied the Battle of the Choirs series has ignited Matthias' interest in seeing that dream come to fruition.

"Our choir has been part of this movement around the country that has seen lots of young people take up choral singing," he says.

"They are performing a lot of Australian music and developing a sound that we can really now identify as an Australian sound.

"I want to tap into that with liturgical music because most of our church music comes from America or England or other parts of Europe.

"I would love to see an Australian identity come through, including Indigenous music, by setting up a long-term project that links musicians, theologians and authors and creates the first all-Australian congregational songbook."

Matthias is behind a proposal to the Faculty of Education and Arts' Humanities Research Institute for program funding towards the formation of a centre for Australian choral and vocal research to promote study into choir music, both sacred and secular.

"What I want to do is build a cohort of postgraduate students embracing singers, conductors, arrangers, composers, music technologists and other artists who can collaborate on large-scale research projects with each other and with researchers from health and science disciplines including physiology and psychology," he says.

"A feature of the centre would be that it would promote research that crosses disciplines outside of music."

A research project underway, coincidentally also a spin-off of the Battle of the Choirs win, demonstrates just this style of interdisciplinary research, merging the fields of health and music.

It involves the formation of a choir for stroke survivors, an idea that was suggested to Matthias by the Hunter New England Health community stroke team in the wake of the chamber choir's successful run on the popular television show.

"Because speech and music are processed on different sides of the brain we are looking at how music may act as a form of speech therapy and perhaps help to rewire parts of the brain that have stopped working," Matthias explains.

The project has been adopted as a PhD study by Conservatorium music teacher and qualified speech therapist Bernadette Lennan, who will direct the choir and measure any changes in its members' speech function over a 12-week period.

While other studies have proved that choirs can be beneficial to the mental wellbeing of participants, this groundbreaking pilot project will explore whether choir singing can produce physical benefits as well, in this case by improving communication.

"What we hope to be able to do ultimately is secure enough funding to support this research with brain imaging technology that can more conclusively track any health benefits the stroke survivors derive from participating in the choir," Matthias says.

That's Music to my ears - Philip Mattias

That's music to my ears

Leading the University of Newcastle Chamber Choir to a win in the keenly watched Battle of the Choirs national television series in 2008 had unexpected but welcome consequences for the choral group's director, Dr Philip Matthias.

Read more

Career Summary

Biography

Research Expertise
My research has involved Australian church music and composition, especially in light of new liturgies over the past 20 years. The bulk of my research has been to develop a more identifiable Australian style of liturgical music, through both use of modern texts and through musical style. The compositions range from works suitable for performance in Cathedral or similar situations, through to some works suitable for parish worship. Eight settings of the Mass have been composed, ranging from simple cantor-style settings through to settings for choir, orchestra, organ, hand-bells and congregation. Similarly, I have written many works set to texts from "A Prayer Book for Australia". Many of these works include parts for congregation, whereby (as in the Mass settings) the choir part may be fairly substantial, whilst the congregation part remains as an integral part of the music, thus allowing the involvment of all present to actively be a part of music through worship.

Teaching Expertise
In academic areas, specialise in teaching of harmony and aural, whilst also teaching music history and orchestration at various stages. Teaching also pipe organ to students of all levels. Also taking Chamber choir, which specialises in modern works, including a substantial amount of Australian works.

Administrative Expertise
Co-ordinator of "Creative and Analytical Studies in Music 3", overseeing students' progress through their academic studies at the Conservatorium. Chamber Choir- includes organising 4 overseas tours since 2000, and recording and manufacture of 5 compact disc recordings.

Qualifications

  • PhD, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Music (Honours), University of Sydney
  • Associate of the Royal College of Music, Royal College of Music

Keywords

  • Academics. Chamber Choir. Organ
  • Australian choral music
  • Australian sacred and spiritual music
  • Torres Strait Islander music

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
190406 Music Composition 100

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Senior Lecturer University of Newcastle
School of Creative Arts
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/11/1983 - 1/07/2006 Director of Music Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle
Australia

Awards

Honours

Year Award
2014 Vice President
Unknown
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
1998 Matthias PV, 'June Nixon plays the organ of St. Pauls Cathedral, Melbourne. Music of Roland Watson', Oecumuse Magazine, December 1998 (1998) [C3]

Conference (4 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Matthias PV, Whaleboat T, 'Revistalising Meriam Mir through Sacred Song', N/A, Australian National University, Canberra (2015)
2014 Matthias PV, Whaleboat T, Grant C, 'Sacred songs from the Torres Strait Islands', Charisima of Dissonance, Melbourne University (2014) [E3]
Co-authors Catherine Grant
2013 Matthias PV, 'Australian sacred and spiritual music: Preservation, cultivation and innovation', -, Ripon College, Oxford (2013) [E3]
2013 Matthias PV, Whaleboat T, 'Sacred Songs from the Torres Strait Islands', Christian Congregational Music: Local & Global Perspectives, Ripon College, Oxford (2013) [E3]
Show 1 more conference

Creative Work (46 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Matthias PV, God is our refuge and strength, Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle (2014) [J2]
2014 Matthias PV, Australian Choral works, General Assembly Hall, United Nations, Geneva (2014) [J2]
2014 Matthias PV, Australian choral music, Victoria Hall, Geneva (2014) [J2]
2014 Matthias PV, Singing the Mass, Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle, Sydney (2014) [J1]
2014 Matthias P, Scott N, A Christmas Carol Celebration, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Harold Lobb Concert Hall, The University of Newcastle Great Hall (2014) [J1]
Co-authors Nathan Scott
2013 Scott NB, Matthias PV, Gallus J, Haec Est Dies (arranged for three telematically-linked pipe organs), The Harold Lobb Concert Hall, Newcastle, NSW, Australia (2013) [J2]
Co-authors Nathan Scott
2013 Matthias PV, Australian Repertoire - Vatican Mass, St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Vatican City (2013) [J2]
Supanova
2013 Matthias PV, Lord, for the years. Commissioned by Benetas for performance in St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne. Choir, brass and organ, St Paul's Cathedral Melbourne (2013)
2013 Matthias PV, Concert: St Paul's Cathedral, London, St Paul's Cathedral, London, London, United Kingdom (2013) [J2]
2013 Matthias PV, Concert: International Festival of Sacred Music, Rome, St Ignazio, Rome, St Ignazio, Rome (2013) [J2]
2013 Matthias PV, Psalm 121, commissioned by Benetas for performance in St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne. Choir, brass and organ, St Paul's Cathedral Melbourne (2013)
2012 Walker S, Allan C, Matthias P, At lunch Soul Food. Sally Walker - flute, Christopher Allan - baritone, Philip Matthias - organ. Works by J.S. Bach, Gluck, Mozart., Harold Lobb Concert Hall, Newcastle Conservatorium of Music, Newcastle, NSW, Australia (2012)
Co-authors Christopher Allan
2011 Choir TUONC, Matthias PV, This Land: Choral Music of Iain Grandage, Harold Lobb Concert Hall at the University of Newcastle Conservatorium., The University of Newcastle (2011) [J1]
Supanova
2010 Matthias PV, Jasmine and Wattle: The University of Newcastle Chamber Choir in China, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia (2010) [J2]
2008 Matthias PV, Battle Cry, -, Sydney, Australia (2008) [J1]
Supanova
2006 Matthias PV, Choir of the Year. The University of Newcastle Chamber Choir (2006) [J1]
2006 Matthias PV, The University of Newcastle Chamber Choir in ABC Live Broadcasts of the State and National Finals of the Choir of the Year Competition (2006) [J1]
2005 Matthias PV, A Song of the Three, HarperCollins Religious, Pymble, NSW (2005) [J2]
2005 Matthias PV, Organ Recital. 18th October Scot?s Church, Melbourne, as part of the International Organ Concert Series, Scot?s Church, Melbourne (2005) [J2]
2002 Spiers CJ, Matthias PV, Concert August 20th 2002 Colin Spiers (Piano) Philip Matthias (Conductor) Newcastle Conservatorium Chamber Choir Spiers - Dreamsong, Newcastle Conservatorium, Newcastle Conservatorium (2002) [J2]
Co-authors Colin Spiers
2002 Spiers CJ, Matthias PV, Concert October 2nd 2002 Colin Spiers (Piano) Philip Matthias (Conductor) Newcastle Conservatorium Chamber Choir Spiers - Dreamsong, Brisbane Choral Festival, Brisbane (2002) [J2]
Co-authors Colin Spiers
2002 Spiers CJ, Matthias PV, Concert October 3rd Colin Spiers (Piano) Philip Matthias (conductor) Newcastle Chamber Choir, Spiers - Those Freeway Blues, Brisbane Choral festival, Brisbane (2002) [J2]
Co-authors Colin Spiers
2001 Matthias PV, Celebration Mass, Self Published, Newcastle (2001) [J2]
2000 Matthias PV, Various Choral Works, University, Ewell, Canterbury, London, Manchester (2000) [J2]
2000 Matthias PV, Choral Performances, BBC England, Manchester UK (2000) [J2]
2000 Matthias PV, Organ Performance, University, Conservatorium (2000) [J2]
2000 Matthias PV, Music by Monteverdi and Bach, Cathedral Festival, Christ Church Cathedral (2000) [J2]
2000 Matthias PV, Music by Bach, Christ Church Cathedral, Cathedral (2000) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Hymns included in "Together in Song", Harper Collins, Sydney (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Faure Requiem, Bach Cantata, University of Newcastle, Newcastle Cathedral and University of Newcastle (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Faure Requiem, University of Newcastle, St James Church-Sydney (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Tavener "Icon of Light", Faculty of Music, University of Newcastle (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Music of Grandage, Britten, Barber, Faculty of Music, University of Newcastle (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Music by Delerve,Peeters,Rivier,Koehne,Hovhaness, Schmidt, Faculty of Music, University of Newcastle (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Organ Recital of Austraalian Music, St Paul's Cathedral London (1999) [J1]
1999 Matthias PV, Organ Recital Westminster Abbey London, Westminster Abbey London (1999) [J1]
1999 Matthias PV, Organ Recital Chelmsford Carhedral UK, Chelmsford Cathedral UK (1999) [J1]
1999 Matthias PV, Organ Recital of Australian Music, University of Newcastle, Chester Cathedral (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Organ Recital of Australian Music, University of Newcastle, St Asaph Abbey Church Wales (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Organ Recital of Australian Music, University of Newcastle, Ewell Parish Church Surrey (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Organ Recitals (artistic Director), University of Newcastle, Newcastle Cathedral (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Restoration Celebration, University of Newcastle, Newcastle Cathedral (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Organ Recital, AUstralian Trumpet Guild, PLC Sydney (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Music of Clerambault,Franck,Saint Saens and Vierne, Faculty of Music, University of Newcastle (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Choral Music as Conductor, Faculty of Music, University of Newcastle (1999) [J2]
1999 Matthias PV, Organ Recital, University of Newcastle, University of Sydney Great Hall (1999) [J2]
Show 43 more creative works

Thesis / Dissertation (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2005 Matthias PV, Renewing the Musical Tradition of an Australian Cathedral - Developments in Liturgical Music at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle, University of Newcastle (2005) [T1]
2005 Matthias P, Renewing the musical tradition of an Australian cathedral - developments in liturgical music at Christ Church Cathedral, (2005) [T3]
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 4
Total funding $36,700

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20152 grants / $30,000

Torres Strait Islander sacred music: protection, cultivation and revitalisation$15,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts
Project Team Doctor Philip Matthias, Doctor Jocelyn McKinnon, Doctor Catherine Grant
Scheme Strategic Networks Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2015
GNo G1500900
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

FEDUA Internal Fellowship$15,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Education and Arts
Project Team Doctor Philip Matthias
Scheme FEDUA Internal Fellowship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2015
GNo G1500905
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20081 grants / $1,700

The Guild of Church Musicians 120th Anniversary Conference, Canterury University, UK, 2/5/2008 - 4/5/2008$1,700

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Philip Matthias
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2008
Funding Finish 2008
GNo G0188607
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20021 grants / $5,000

CD recording University of Newcastle Chamber Choir$5,000

Funding body: Australia Council for the Arts

Funding body Australia Council for the Arts
Project Team
Scheme Project Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2002
Funding Finish 2002
GNo
Type Of Funding Not Known
Category UNKN
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed5
Current9

Total current UON EFTSL

Masters1.7
PhD1

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 Masters What Sweeter Music Can We Bring? The Formation, Importance and Preservation of Community Choral Groups and the Strive for Musical Excellence.
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2015 Masters Sing You Up My Country: Developing and Defining Synergies Between Australian Compositions and the Voices and Skills of High School Choirs
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2015 Masters Extreme Vocal Techniques in Contemporary Heavy Music
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2015 PhD Animating the Guitar: Developing a Voice Control Mechanism for Guitar Timbre and Expression Control
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2014 PhD Process and Product - The Phenomenulogy of the Solo Concerts of Keith Jarrett
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2014 PhD Future Gazing: The Concert Musician in the 21st Century
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2014 PhD What is the Music History of North Stradbroke Island and How Does This Impact on the Musical Development of Aboriginal and Other Australian Children?
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2012 Masters The Development of the Viola as a Solo Instrument in Britain at the end of the 19th Century and the Beginning of the 20th Century
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2011 Masters The Investigative Cellist and the Informed Audition
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor

Past Supervision

Year Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 PhD The Polysynchronous Film Score: The Relationship between Music and Image/Narrative in Contemporary Scores for Silent Film
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2014 PhD Music in Context: An Exploration of Music and Dramaturgy
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2014 PhD "Out of the Shadows": A Biographical Study of William Turner (c.1651-1740), With Critical Editions of His Anthems and Services
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2012 PhD An Investigation of Contrasting Approaches to Worship within Australian Baptist Churches to Explore the Role of Apollonian and Dionysian Concepts of Art Play in Understanding the Differences. A Case Study Approach
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Principal Supervisor
2007 Masters Context and Analysis of Organ Performances
Music, Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle
Sole Supervisor
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Dr Philip Matthias

Position

Senior Lecturer
School of Creative Arts
Faculty of Education and Arts

Focus area

Music

Contact Details

Email philip.matthias@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 492 18928
Fax (02) 492 18958

Office

Room CON314
Building The Conservatorium of Music
Location The Conservatorium
Cnr Laman and Auckland Street
Newcastle, NSW 2300
Australia
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