Neil McEwan trained as a chorister and organist at St Mary's Cathedral in Auckland, New Zealand under the direction of Professor Peter Godfrey. He continued his studies through the Royal Schools of Music, the Trinity College of Music, London and the University of Durham. While resident in France and Germany he studied Gregorian chant semiology and palaeography at the celebrated Abbey of Solesmes, and at the Musikhochschule in Wurzburg and with Gregorian Scholar, DOM Professor Johannes, Bechmans Goschl. He also studied orchestral conducting and advanced choral conducting techniques in Stuttgart, Berlin and at the Meistersinger Konservatorium in Nurnberg. He holds a Masters degree in Musicology from the University of NSW (1994) and a PhD in Gregorian chant semiological research from the University of Sydney (2003).
He has conducted in New Zealand, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Hungary, England, Canada and the USA. As an adjudicator he has appeared on national and international panels. He specialises in Gregorian chant semiology and palaeography and Early Music performance practice, and was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1994 for further overseas study in these areas.
Neil McEwan is Director of the Sydney Conservatorium Chamber Choir, the Conservatorium Choir, and the Choir of Christ Church St Laurence, which he led on tours to New Zealand in 1991 and 1998, to Germany, France and England in 1994 and 2002, and to England and the USA in January 2007. The Choir was invited for a second time to be the resident choir at Westminster Abbey for ten days.
In 2007, Dr McEwan received a grant from the Sydney Conservatorium's
New Perspectives in Music Program to transcribe the Rimini Antiphonal of 1328, housed in the archives of the NSW State Library, and prepare the chants for performances. In the 2009 Australia Day Honours list Neil received an AM for services to music and was also awarded a Fellowship from the Royal School of Church Music (FRSCM) for services to Church Music over forty-five years.