Celebrating twenty years of choral conducting
Founded in 1939, Melbourne University Choral Society (MUCS) is one of Melbourne’s leading large choirs. The choristers include both Melbourne students and interested members of the community.
The choir performs a diverse repertoire and has also premiered several new works by young Australian composers.
After 20 years at its helm, conductor Andrew Wailes says the choristers’ energy and enthusiasm has made it very easy for him to stay with the choir, and to build on the successes of each year.
“The members, and their collective desire to aim high as a group, have always been the greatest strength of the choir,” he says.
“There are so many intelligent and passionate people in MUCS, who come from all over the world to sing together. This makes for a dynamic and socially diverse group of people to work with.
“There is a lot of collective musical experience, mixed with raw talent and untapped potential, which makes my job as conductor very challenging at times but also incredibly rewarding.”
Mr Wailes said particular highlights of his time with the choir included sold out performances of Carmina Burana at the Melbourne Town Hall and Carl Vine’s Choral Symphony, as well as the choir’s 2010/11 European tour.
“It was a very proud moment to conduct the choir in places like Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna and the Imperial Cathedral of Worms in Germany ... it was a long way from St Mary’s College in Parkville.”
Current MUCS President Georgina Belfield says being part of the choir has been very rewarding.
“It’s a great stress reliever, and it’s always so lovely to see our members getting so much out of performing, learning wonderful music, making great friends and hearing that our concerts have had a great impact on audiences,” she says.
Ms Belfield says the choir’s committee determines artistic direction each year.
“We are fortunate to have many strong ties to other musical organisations in Melbourne, so we can combine forces with the likes of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic for some of our concerts.”
Mr Wailes says each year’s program is designed to “expose our members to as many great works as possible”. Already this year the choir has performed at the ANZAC Day Dawn Service and Commemoration at the Shrine of Remembrance, and this month will perform Haydn’s The Creation.
“The Creation is a choral and orchestral masterpiece, full of rousing choruses and exciting outbursts of energy and power, which perfectly suits a large choir like MUCS,” he said.
“The choir is bigger than ever, and as good as it has ever been right now, with more than 200 active members.”
MUCS will perform The Creation on May 26 at St Paul’s Cathedral with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra and soloists.