In 2013 the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic celebrates its 160th year of music-making in Melbourne, making it Australia's oldest surviving cultural organisation and one of the oldest secular choirs in the world.
Today, the 120-voice Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir continues to present critically acclaimed performances to audiences in Melbourne. It is committed to the encouragement and fostering of young musicians, and is recognised by many as Melbourne's premier symphonic choir. The RMP's choristers are strictly auditioned, and are voluntary musicians who share a common love of choral music, and who give their time freely in the pursuit of musical excellence.
... The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic ... under the leadership of Andrew Wailes, outlined the passion of this work with aplomb. The dedicated preparation was obvious on all levels: first-class diction, intonation and vocal power were all abundant.
The RMP was founded in 1853, by a group of civic leaders and music lovers who wished to bring musical culture of a high standard to the early colony of Victoria. Since that time it has presented performances at many historic occasions and important events in the history of Melbourne. These include the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880, the Great Centennial Exhibition of 1888, the opening of the First Australian Parliament in 1901, the opening of the Melbourne Town Hall, and the 1956 Olympic Games.
Throughout its long existence, the RMP has consistently presented performances of major choral and orchestral works to great acclaim, often as Australian or Melbourne premieres. Amongst the many works performed for the first time in Australia by the RMP Choir and Orchestra, are Mozart's Requiem, Handel's Israel in Egypt, Bach's St. Matthew Passion, Vivaldi's Gloria, Mendelssohn's Elijah, Dvorak's Stabat Mater, Elgar's The Kingdom and The Spirit of England and Walton's Belshazzar's Feast. In recent times this tradition of innovative programming has continued, with the RMP presenting world premiere performances of works such as From the Beginning by Stuart Greenbaum, Sky Saga and Southern Gloria by Nicholas Buc, Fronting Eternity by Gordon Kerry and Mourning and the Light Within by John Peterson.
Strong on emotion and delivery ... the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir, prepared by Andrew Wailes, was rock solid. In fact, its performance was by far the best presentation I have heard from a Melbourne-based choir this year.
Handel's great oratorio Messiah has particular significance for the RMP. It first launched the choir in 1853, and has been performed at least once every year since. This unbroken sequence of performances is considered to be a world record.
Throughout its distinguished history, the RMP has boasted many outstanding conductors. These include such figures as Sir Malcolm Sargent, Georg Szell, Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Granville Bantock, Sir Charles Groves, Sir Eugene Goossens, and Chief Conductors including Alberto Zelman and Sir Bernard Heinze.
All credit, therefore, to the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra... who, under RMP Music Director Andrew Wailes' inspired direction, gave the two-part masterwork a thrilling performance.
The Sunday Herald Sun
2006 highlights included Dvorak's Stabat Mater, a Venetian polychoral concert, Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, Orff's Carmina Burana, Irish Songs of Praise, and the world premiere of John Peterson's Mourning and the Light Within. 2007 concerts included Haydn's The Creation, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and Missa Brevis, Tarik O'Regan's Dorchester Canticles, Irish Songs of Pride, Beethoven's Choral Fantasia and Mass in C. Concerts for 2008 included Fauré's Requiem, performed with the visiting London Bach Choir, Schubert's Mass in A minor and the Bruckner Te Deum, performed with the the Melbourne University Choral Society and the Academic Orchestra of Stuttgart University. Later performances in the year include in June an all Bach concert (Magnificat BWV243, Easter Oratorio BWV 248 and the solo cantata Ich Hab Genug BWV82) then in August a remarkable program of multi-ethnic music centred on Fanshawe's African Sanctus. The October concert featured Kodaly's Buvari Te Deum and Verdi's Four Sacred Pieces. Concerts for 2009 included a Program celebrating the 350th anniversary of the birth of Purcell - featuring a concert performance of Dido and Aeneas , the annual RMP Aria competitions for young soloists specialising in Oratorio singing, An Evening with Mr Handel featuring recits and arias from opera and items from Oratorio, the Melbourne Premiere of Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man - A Mass for Peace, when the RMP was joined by the Melbourne University Choral Society and the Australian Catholic University Choir. Of course every year concludes with the annual performance of Messiah and in Christmas week two concerts of Carols in the Cathedral.
Concerts for 2010 season included a Program of Passiontide reflections with music of Bach and Handel, a recital concert of Chopin's works, a Schubertiade, the annual RMP Aria competitions for young soloists specialising in Oratorio singing, preceded by a public choral workshop. Then in October the RMP Choir and Orchestra was joined by the Melbourne University Choral Society and the Australian Catholic University Choir for a performance of Verdi's Requiem, and in December - the annual performance of Messiah and in Christmas week two concerts of Carols in the Cathedral.
The 2011 Concert season continues the traditions - more details can be found on the "SEASON 2011" tab. The RMP will present a total of ten concerts from Mozart through Mahler, Liszt, and the 20th Century masters:- Britten, Finzi Part and Grainger. The RMP ARIA competition will be held in August, then in October the RMP Choir and Orchestra will again be joined by the Melbourne University Choral Society and the Australian Catholic University in Elgar's emotive Oratorio The Dream of Gerontius and in December - the annual performance of Messiah and in Christmas week two concerts of Carols in the Cathedral.
The RMP is a member of the Australian National Choral Association, and gratefully acknowledges the continuing support of the City of Melbourne as its principal sponsor.