Patrick Newman: organ musical protégé

By Jordan Grantham, 18 August 2017
Patrick Newman is the Organ Scholar in the Music Program at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta. Photo: Diocese of Parramatta

Not all teens ride skateboards and play hours of video games.

Though a typical young Catholic man, Parramatta Marist High School student Patrick Newman is also a student of the rare art of playing the organ.

“What I love about playing the organ – it’s a different feeling and it’s almost like a thrill ride compared to piano because you can play around with all the different sounds instead of just having one, that’s just stagnant, all the way up and down the keyboard,” Patrick said.

In his early years at St Patrick’s Primary School, Parramatta, Patrick Newman heard piercing music coming from St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. The interested young child went with his mother into the Cathedral to investigate and saw Bernard Kirkpatrick, Director of Music, rehearsing with full gusto.

“Every day after school I used to walk past here and get picked up by my mum. And then one day I heard Bernard playing the organ, and I came in through and my mum said that I play the piano, so he gave me a go on it,” Patrick said.

That moment had a lasting impact on young Patrick.

Years later, Bernard recognised his musical potential in the music program at St Patrick’s Primary School and recruited Patrick into the Cathedral Organ Scholar’s program.

This gave Patrick the chance to study under the esteemed Bernard Kirkpatrick, a well-known and leading Australian organist.

“I look up to Bernard. I also look up to my teachers at school,” he said.

Patrick began playing during the time Most Rev Anthony Fisher was Bishop of Parramatta.

“I first started playing around six years ago,” he said.

This requires serious practice and commitment to playing at the main Sunday Mass, where Patrick appreciates the traditional canon of liturgical music.

He is soon to play more parts of the Mass. He recently began playing the Sanctus, and has previously played the postlude.

“Just recently, I played the ‘Holy Holy’. It’s a different experience to playing at the end of Mass because you have to feel the congregation with you.”

At the moment he is practising a virtuosic Toccata by great French organist Louis Vierne.

“One piece that I’m currently learning is a Toccata by Vierne, which looks like it’s going to be fun once I get it up to scratch,” he said.

He enjoys pulling out Bach’s dramatic Toccata and Fuge in D Minor, which always receives an impressed reaction.

“A lot of you would know it because it’s usually played at the start of like a Dracula movie,” he said.

“The most electric moment for me playing the organ was one day at the end of Mass when I played the Toccata, the Dracula music, and a lot of people heard it and loved it,” Patrick said with a small laugh.

Patrick Newman is part of the CAPTIVATE program for the creative and performing arts, which brings together talented music students from all across Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.

“The CAPTIVATE program includes students from Xavier College, which is around the Blue Mountains, St Columbus, our school [Parramatta Marist High School], Catherine McAuley, Nagle College, in Blacktown,” Patrick said.

“There’s different categories in CAPTIVATE, so there’s things such as Primary Choir, Secondary Choir and, of course, the Orchestra,” he said.

For more information on the CAPTIVATE program, click here

Patrick’s talents are useful to the CAPTIVATE program where he has a leadership role accompanying the orchestra. When not playing the St Patrick’s Cathedral organ, Patrick is playing soccer and relaxing with mates.

His friends are accepting and supportive of Patrick’s musical interests, which also includes violin and piano.

“They just think music is my thing and they let me do it,” he said.

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