Stewart Smith was appointed as Organist of Christ Church in March 2014. He is a senior lecturer at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, where, in addition to playing an active role in teaching and in research, he also chairs the Classical Music Department. He studied performance and musicology at the Royal Academy of Music and at London University, and graduated with first-class honours, a master’s degree, two performance diplomas and many prizes.
In addition to being one of the most active organists and harpsichordists in Australia, Stewart has performed at international festivals and in venues throughout the southern hemisphere and in Europe. In the recent past he has performed with the Hilliard Ensemble, I Fagiolini, the Orchestra of the Antipodies, Pinchgut Opera, Ensemble Arcangelo, Ensemble Batistin, The West Australian Symphony Orchestra, The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Festival Baroque, The Australian Haydn Ensemble and the St. George¹s Cathedral consort.
As an organist and harpsichordist Stewart has recorded fifteen CDs and has performed many times for ABC radio and television. A five-CD set of French Baroque music on the ABC Classics label has recently been re-released internationally, and has won plaudits from the international press. Stewart has had a long association with church music and in addition to being assistant organist at two of London’s most important parish churches (St. Marylebone, and St. James’ Sussex Gardens) Stewart was for many years assistant organist at St George’s Cathedral in Perth. Stewart has given organ recitals throughout the British Isles—including Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral and St Paul’s Cathedral—and a recent solo harpsichord recital for ABC’s Sunday Live was voted one of the year’s best broadcasts.
Stewart’s research has been disseminated through seminars, conferences, editions and articles, and he has successfully supervised many honours and masters students in the above topics. He has won several research grants, most notably a large-scale grant from the Australian Research Council, where he was a chief investigator researching the music of the French Baroque. Stewart gives occasional public lectures for organisations such as the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and Musica Viva, and from time to time authors programme notes, CD liner notes and concert reviews.
Stewart’s teaching at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts sees him working with students in performance activities (mainly Baroque music – including Baroque opera) and in a variety of historical and theoretical disciplines. He is able to put into practice techniques of historical improvisation—including the ability to improvise fugues—and in addition to writing about this in the pedagogy literature, Stewart has had great success in inspiring the next generation of students to master these practices for themselves.