Organ Studies

Over the last decade and a half, under the leadership of our principal organ teacher, Philip Swanton, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Organ Studies Unit has developed into Australia’s leading centre of organ teaching and performance research; its reputation for excellence in teaching and student achievement is acknowledged nationally and internationally. During this time nearly 30 young organists have completed a degree in Organ Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium, with distinguished alumni now working as recitalists, teachers and church musicians locally and overseas (Switzerland, France, Austria, Germany, England and North America). In recent years two former students have been honoured with an appointment to the position of Organ Scholar at Westminster Abbey.

Our students gain a thorough grounding in performance techniques while expanding their awareness of historical context through systematic exposure to repertoire from all the major schools of organ composition from the baroque to the present day. From the outset, we encourage our students’ capacity to make sound, independent judgments (for example, in matters of registration practice). As a result of our long-standing collaboration with a number of major city churches – St James’ King St and Christ Church St Laurence in particular – students gain important hands-on experience as ‘Organ Scholars’. This ensures that they complete their studies well equipped for the demands of life as both professional organists and church musicians.

Since the restoration of the 3-manual and pedal Verbrugghen Hall organ in 2001, the Unit has at its disposal a first-class teaching instrument in one of Australia’s most beautiful, historical performance spaces. In 2016 a new 3-manual Noorlander “Hauptwerk” organ was installed in a dedicated Organ Studio. Equipped with sample sets of original organs from the most important schools of organ-building and composition, this state-of-the art instrument has proven to be an invaluable teaching and practice resource.

The Organ Studies Unit also hosts the Sydney Conservatorium Organ Academy (SCOMA) every second year in the September/October break, attracting students from across Australia and NZ. Over the course of five days, leading overseas tutors share their expertise in a jam-packed program of masterclasses and performances.

Study Options

Organ Studies Faculty

Undergraduate Audition Requirements

Postgraduate Audition Requirements