Music Director and Conductor: Andrew Wailes
Associate Accompanist: Sam Hartley Associate Accompanist: Dean Sky-Lucas
Principal Organist: David Macfarlane
Founded in 1939 when the university’s men’s and women’s glee clubs merged, the Melbourne University Choral Society (MUCS) has established a reputation as one of Melbourne’s leading large choirs, and has brought an exciting blend of youthful energy and musical skill to many works throughout more than six decades of existence. Under direction of Andrew Wailes, the choir has performed music from all the important periods in musical history, and has given numerous first performances of new works by young Australian composers, as well as presenting many major works alongside some of Melbourne's leading professional ensembles.
MUCS is Melbourne’s leading non-auditioning student choir, offering both Melbourne University students and other interested members of the community the chance to learn and perform choral music in a friendly and relaxed student environment. There are NO FORMAL AUDITIONS FOR STUDENTS, although some music-reading ability or musical experience is a definite advantage. The choir is also open to UniMelb staff and alumni, as well as non UniMelb students, and interested members of the wider community who wish to be part of a high quality ensemble.
Whilst there are generally no auditions required, all members wishing to perform in concerts will be expected to attend a minimum number of regular rehearsals (usually around 75%), and non-students may be asked to demonstrate a reasonable standard to ensure they are able to cope with the general expectations of the choir if their attendance is poor.
MUCS is regularly engaged to perform alongside professional ensembles (such as the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Australian Army Band etc), and was the only Australian choir to perform at the 2016 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo before a live audience of 175,000 at Etihad Stadium, and a further estimated international TV audience of over 100 million people! In 2020 MUCS was to perform Mahler's 8th Symphony with Sir Andrew Davis and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra although sadly, this concert was eventually cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The choir has toured Europe on three previous occasions, performing in some of Europe's most important cathedrals, churches, palaces and concert halls in countries including Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. The choir's most recent tour took place in January 2020 and saw MUCS perform in venues including The Papal Basilica of St Peter in the Vatican, Salzburg Cathedral, Munich's Cathedral of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), the Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna, St Michael's Basilica in Mondsee and the Basilica Church of Neustift Abbey (Abbazia di Novacella) in the South Tyrol, Italy.
In recent seasons MUCS has performed a significant number of large-scale symphonic works in many of Melbourne's finest venues. Highlights have included Orff's Carmina Burana, Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky, Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius and The Music Makers in Melbourne Town Hall, Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony and Verdi's Messa da Requiem in the Arts Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall, and Jenkins' The Armed Man, Mozart's Requiem and Great Mass in C minor, Faure's Requiem, the Melbourne premiere of Ola Gjeilo's Sunrise Mass in St Paul's Cathedral. Other major works have included Vivaldi's Gloria, Rutter's Gloria, Carissimi's Historia di Jephte, and the world premiere of Stefan Cassomenos' Dixit Dominus at Deakin Edge Federation Square.
MUCS has also appeared with the Melbourne Staff Band, forming part of the massed choir for the Salvation Army's "A Christmas Gift" concerts at Hamer Hall and the Melbourne Convention Centre. Each December the choir also performs a series of spectacular "Carols in the Cathedral" concerts with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic in St Paul's Cathedral, as well as providing small caroling groups at various locations all over Melbourne.
After a series of frustrating concert postponements and cancellations in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, MUCS ended 2021 with a month long season of some 25 caroling engagements across the Melbourne CBD in December, as well as four spectacular"Carols in the Cathedral" concerts at St Paul's Cathedral, to a combined audience of some 2500 patrons. These concerts were performed in association with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic and will be released later this year on DVD.
MUCS plans to tour to the United Kingdom in January 2023, and new members are welcome to join the tour. For further information including a link to register interest, please visit the TOURS page on this website.
MUCS was a founding member of the Australian Intervarsity Choral movement, and is a member of the Australian National Choral Association.