It is often said that God moves in mysterious ways. Reflecting on my journey from Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, London to Master of Music, St George’s Cathedral, Perth, and the decade that followed, I feel there is much truth in this saying. In 2007, I was examining for the Associated Board in Kuala Lumpur when, out of the blue, I received an email from Dr John Shepherd, then Dean of St George’s. He and his wife would soon be in the UK for a wedding; could we meet up?

I was intrigued. A chat with Tallis Scholars conductor Peter Phillips (whose son, Edmund, was in the Chapel Royal Choir) confirmed Dr Shepherd was no ordinary man. He possessed three degrees, two doctorates in music and had been chaplain at Christ Church, Oxford. We met and agreed I’d come “for a look around Perth”.

Joseph Nolan, Organ Organist Joseph Nolan. Photo © David Mason

This casual invitation involved my being interviewed by many people, including members of the Cathedral Chapter, playing the organ to a selection committee, conducting a boys’ rehearsal and conducting the Duruflé Requiem with the Cathedral Choir for All...