Music Staff


Dr Brett McKern, PhD DCA BMus BTh BEd FGCM LTCL(Org&Comp) LMusA ARCO AMusA(Org&MShip) ACertCM CertRS HonGCM


Dr Brett McKern was born in Sydney, but has also spent some years working in the UK.  He returned to Sydney in 1997 and now works as a composer, arranger, conductor, organist, liturgist, academic and lecturer. He is presently Organist and Director of Music at St John’s Church Gordon. Previous appointments have included Assistant Director of Music at St James’ Church King Street Sydney, Director of The Cathedral Singers, and Organist and Head of Chapel Music at Trent College in the UK.

Brett holds degrees in music, education and theology and two doctorates in musical composition. His compositions within church music include simple music for congregation, such as his hymn tune Harcourt, published in the USA, through congregational mass settings and service music, and music for cantor, to complex works for professional choirs. He is regularly commissioned for sacred and secular music compositions. Also a specialist in composing for the organ, his organ music has been performed in venues such as Westminster Abbey and been awarded first place in competition. His music has been broadcast on radio in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Brett has published over 60 compositions in Australia and abroad.

As an academic, Brett has lectured at the Universities of Sydney, Wollongong and Western Sydney, and St John’s Theological College Morpeth NSW. His interest, lecturing in Baroque music, has also influenced his composition. His publications, in addition to musical compositions, include reviews of concerts and CDs for journals and articles on church music. Brett is called on as an examiner of university theses, compositions and performances and examines written music subjects for the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB). He is also an S.S. Wesley and Herbert Howells scholar. Brett’s private students have gone on to read for bachelors and masters degrees at the Sydney Conservatorium, and the Universities of Sydney, Newcastle, private institutions and overseas universities, and a number are now professional musicians.

Brett’s work as a performer has included choral direction and organ performance (as a soloist and accompanist). He is dedicated to the performance of modern works and Australian works in particular (and has commissioned numerous new works for choir), and makes a specialty of improvisation at the organ. As an organist he has been broadcast on ABC-FM and 2MBS-FM and recorded for DVD and CD. As a choir director he has performed extensively in Australia, Germany and the UK: in many Sydney and Australian churches and cathedrals as well as places such as Bath and Westminster Abbeys, York Minster, Salisbury, Portsmouth, Wells, Norwich, Lichfield, Bristol, Durham, St Edmundsbury, Ripon, Westminster, Ely, Southwark and St Paul’s Cathedrals in England.


Miss Nicola Chau, BMusStudies, MClinAud, MAudSA.

Nicola Chau holds the degree of Bachelor of Music Studies from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, for which she majored in organ, studying with Phillip Swanton.

Nicola has attended several summer schools singing with the world-renowned choir The Tallis Scholars under director Peter Philips.

Nicola has many years of experience in parish music, and also coordinates music at St Basil’s Church in Artarmon. She was Organ Scholar at St John’s Church Gordon 2008-2009 and from 2009 was appointed Assistant Director of Music.


Mr Cliff Cowdroy, OAM

Cliff Cowdroy is an honorary Deputy Organist at St John’s. Cliff has been involved with the Gordon Parish for many years and will be familiar to many parishioners. He mainly plays at the Healing Mass on Thursday mornings, and also sings with the Parish Choir and 8am Singers. 

Mr Theo Yardley

Theo Yardley is an honorary Deputy Organist at St John’s.  Theo is a long-standing parishioner.  He plays at the Thursday morning Healing Masss.

Former Musicians of the Church:


  • 1887-?           W. Pymble, F.Shaw (Choirmaster)
  • ?-1908           Mrs King
  • 1909-?           G.H. Turner
  • 1923-1928    G.E.M. Coomber
  • 1928               Edward Massey
  • 1929-1933    Hannagan
  • 1933-1934    R. Griffiths
  • 1934-1936    Sydney Cooper ARCO
  • 1937-1938    Martin Giles LLB
  • 1939-1946    Charles Maddocks AMusA
  • 1947-1950    Allan Jenkins
  • 1950-1951    Oliver Craddock MA
  • 1951-1955    L. Gent BA
  • 1956-1965    L. Trimble BA
  • 1965              R. Adams (Acting Organist)
  • 1965-2001    Graham Anderson, Enid Anderson AMusA

Organist & Director of Music

  • 2002-2008    Jane Stewart MMus
  • 2008-        Dr Brett McKern PhD DCA BMus BTh BEd FGCM LTCL(Organ&Comp) LMusA ARCO AMusA(Organ&MShip) ACertCM CertRS HonGCM

Assistant Director of Music

  • 2009-     Nicola Chau

Assistant Organists (1972-1997)

  • Ross Adams
  • David Alexander
  • Jeff Barlow
  • Clifford Cowdroy FACE
  • Dr James Forsyth
  • Chris Sillince
  • Richard Simpson

Organ Scholar

  • 2008-2009   Nicola Chau

Hon. Deputy Organists

  • 2010-       Cliff Cowdroy, OAM
  • 2010-       Theo Yardley