Traditional Meets Contemporary at a Historic Gathering of Church Musicians - The 'Sydney inSpires' Conference – Hope 103.2

Traditional Meets Contemporary at a Historic Gathering of Church Musicians – The ‘Sydney inSpires’ Conference

By Clare BruceMonday 27 May 2019

Listen: Ross Cobb, director of music at St Andrew’s Cathedral, chats to Laura Bennett. Above: Conductor Noel Triddinick (left) and the City Alight band (centre) will feature at Sydney inSpires and Prom Praise.

Imagine a 300-voice choir, with an orchestra of Christians who love to worship, one of Australia’s leading contemporary church bands, and a cathedral-style organ – oh, and don’t forget the opera singers – all praising God as one.

This is Prom Praise, a night coming up at Sydney Town Hall on Saturday July 13, billed as ‘a music worship extravaganza like no other’. If you’re familiar with England’s traditional music event Last Night at the Proms, then Prom Praise is like the Christian version of that. Prom Praise events are held at the Royal Albert Hall in London every year and have featured worship artists such as Reuben Morgan, Matt Redman, Stuart Townend, and Keith and Kristyn Getty.

Prom Praise is the pinnacle of a nine-day conference for church singers and musicians from July 6 to 14, called ‘Sydney inSpires’. Presented by the Royal School of Church Music, a UK-based organisation that exists to equip church worship teams, the conference is expected to be the largest-ever gathering of its kind in Australasia.

Ross Cobb, director of music at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney and the head of RSCM in Australia, said that  for many years the Royal School of Music focused only on traditional worship – think hymns, choirs and organs. And it makes sense, given the organisation was founded almost 100 years ago in England’s Westminster Abbey.

“We wanted to try and do something that every kind of church musician could say, ‘this is amazing, I want to be part of this’.”

But in recent years it’s started expanding into contemporary music, connecting with musicians of all kinds, and encouraging them to inspire one another with their different styles. Ross, who’s passionate about contemporary worship, said ‘Sydney inSpires’ is designed for everyone.

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“We wanted to try and do something that every kind of church musician could say, ‘this is amazing, I want to be part of this’,” he said. “Every kind of church music will be covered and hopefully everybody will walk away inspired to do it better. We’re hoping to get all sorts of musicians – people who run music in cathedrals like me, people who run a little tiny town church with just one person playing the guitar.”

Sessions For Every Kind of Musician

The contemporary music stream will be led by the band CityAlight from St Paul’s Anglican Church in Castle Hills, as well as other prominent church musicians.

Highlights of the traditional music stream will include Stephen Cleobury (director of music at King’s College Cambridge) leading a ‘Christmas in July – 9 Lessons and Carols Service’ at St Andrew’s Cathedral, sessions by Barry Rose (the director of music at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, who conducted Prince Charles and Dianna’s wedding), and David Hill CBE conducting Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the National Youth Choir of Australia.

The conference also includes a youth program, sessions for music directors, and a stream for ministers and church leaders – teaching them how to use music in their services, and how to encourage their music teams and foster excellence.

To find out more about the full program of events or to register for the conference, head to

To buy tickets to Prom Praise on July 13, head to the Prom Praise event page.


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