By Daniel Brace

    If you’ve been to Christmas Carols at St Paul’s Cathedral, you most likely have seen Kingsville local Philip Nicholls conducting and singing along with the choir. 

    Philip is the Director of Music at St Paul’s and a champion of the West.

    He lives with his wife Miriam and three children in Kingsville, and holds one of the top jobs in church music in Australia. It’s a job that requires getting up early on a Sunday, when most of us are still in bed and dreaming of coffee. 

    Q: Do you ever just want to sleep in on a Sunday?

    A: I get into work at about 7.15 and start preparing the music for the day. I lead a hymn at the 8am service, then meet the choristers (girls and boys who sing in the choir) as they arrive for their 9am rehearsal. Any thought of sleeping in is lost the moment I see their beaming faces shout ‘Morning!’ to me as they skip into the Cathedral! After the 4pm service it’s good to get home to Kingsville in time for dinner with my family.

    Q: It’s pretty rare that people get to do what they love for a job. How did it happen for you?

    A: Like for most people, lots of hard work! Study, experience, practice, thinking, writing, honing, refining, and rewriting choral and voice training materials and programs. All of our singing adults are volunteers, so a sense of humour and the ability to put on a bit of a show in rehearsals is important too.

    Q: How long have you lived in the west and what do you like so much about it? (think about your favourite cafe, park or festival)

    A: I grew up in the north-west and lived in a few other places before settling in Kingsville in 2013. We walk our Merle Koolie dog, Ludo, in Cruickshank Park twice a day and love getting a coffee or hot chocolate from Craig Conron at his Calmer Coffee Cart at the end of Adaleigh Street.

    Q: Do you have a favourite piece of music?

    A: I have favourite work music, and favourite music. My random playlist has everyone from Sadie Mustoe to Mendelssohn and the Arctic Monkeys to the Australian Chamber Orchestra! At the moment I’m really getting into forgotten masterpieces by Sydney Watson and Peter Gabriel.

    Q: What could be improved about the west?

    A: I’m really looking forward to the Metro and West Gate tunnels opening, which I think will revolutionise the flow of traffic through our suburbs. Also, we Kingsvillians really need a bus that operates past 7pm, and on Sundays!

    Q: Is it bad to go to church just for the music?

    A: No. If you only go to church for the music, you must enjoy it, and that’s really all that God wants for us all, that we take care of ourselves and each other.

    Q: What advice do you have for parents who want to encourage their kids to do music?

    A: With our kids, Miriam and I have encouraged them to take musical instrument study seriously and to do their practice, but with some, there may come the time when they’ve persisted as long as they think they can. All people like to achieve highly, but if all the hard work’s not making you happy, you’re doing the wrong thing. 

    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

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