Dr Paul McMahon

B. Cr. Arts (Music) (USQ), Grad. Dip. Mus. (QCGU), M. Mus. (Perf.) (USyd), PhD (QCGU)
Deputy Head of School, Performance Convenor, Research Committee Chair
College of Arts and Social Sciences

Research interests

  • Historical performance practice
  • Vocal performance and the pedagogy of singing
  • Music performance research


Paul McMahon is one of the country’s leading tenors & early music specialists. He holds a PhD & Graduate Diploma of Music (Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University), a Master of Music (Performance) (Sydney Conservatorium of Music) & a Bachelor of Creative Arts (University of Southern Queensland). In 2002, he was awarded a Churchill Fellowship for intensive study of Baroque repertoire under Marius van Altena at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. Paul’s research embraces historical performance practice & the vocal music of George Frideric Handel & Johann Sebastian Bach within historical musicology & ERA-eligible creative practice. His recent publications include articles issued by Australian Voice (Now touch the air softly: Reflections upon art songs in the recording studio), the Journal of Music Research Online (Rhetorical vocal writing in Handel’s English oratorio Samson) & Musicology Australia (Observations upon the secular & sacred vocal music of Tudor & Jacobean England), as well as book chapters on performance practice in the music of Handel (Springer) & classical voice pedagogy (Australian Academic Press).

His creative practice as research includes regular engagements as soloist with symphony orchestras, chamber music groups & choirs throughout Australia, New Zealand & Asia. As one of Australia’s leading exponents of Baroque repertoire, Paul is highly respected for his interpretation of the Evangelist role in the Passions of J. S. Bach. This season, Paul appears as tenor soloist in Bach's Easter Oratorio with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Orff's Carmina Burana with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the title role in Handel's Samson with St George's Cathedral Consort in the Perth Concert Hall.

Paul is currently the Deputy Head of the School of Music, Convenor of Performance & Research Committee Chair. 


Researcher's projects

Research Associate within the Australian Research Council Discovery Project Performing transdisciplinary: Image, music and text in eighteenth-century print culture (DP170102666) (2019)




Real and Right and True: Songs by Calvin Bowman: A 2-CD art song project released internationally by Decca (2018) and an accompanying journal publication 'Now touch the air softly: Reflections on art songs in the recording studio' (Australian Voice, Vol. 19)




Available student projects

PhD supervision to completion as Principal Supervisor

Primary school music education: A study of teachers, composers and original works in a pedagogical context: https://digitalcollections.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/101810?mode=full

The female voice in American musical theatre (1940-1955): Mary Martin and the development of integrated vocal style: https://digitalcollections.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/101933?mode=full


PhD supervision to completion as Associate Supervisor

A scholarly edition with exegesis of Niccolo Piccini's Dramma Giocoso: 'Il regno della luna' (1770): https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/141079

Implementing the Australian Curriculum in Music: An initial study assessing its praxial potential in secondary schools in Canberra: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/203328

Master of Philosophy supervision to completion as Associate Supervisor

Historical performance practice of the prelude non mesure and its relationship to recording and performancehttps://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/148878

Insight and self-discovery: A qualitative study of beginner violin students exploring the third-position approach: https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/handle/1885/149717

Current student projects

Current PhD supervision as Chair of Panel and Primary Supervisor

 Mirroring the opera singer: Exploring audience's strong reactions to the operatic vocal technique in live chamber settings

 Merging pedagogies: A hybrid approach to tertiary jazz vocalists’ functional and stylistic training


Current PhD supervision as Chair of Panel and Associate Supervisor

The Pianism of Ferruccio Busoni: Recordings, reviews and aesthetics


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Updated:  20 September 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers