Rachmaninov The Bells, October 2 2005
"The choral forces made a splendid sound in the great outbursts that occur in the odd-numbered movements... the large body produced some exhilarating moments. Singing in Russian, the singers complemented the VCA players in bringing to vivid life this remarkable, rarely heard masterwork."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, October 5 2005
Verdi Messa da Requiem, June 21 2005
"The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir revisited Verdi's grandiose and taxing Messa da Requiem after five years and again enjoyed another clear success. You would have been hard pressed to recall a more impressive choral conviction than that in the hushed drama of the opening muttered phrases and later, the swirling vehemence informing the abrupt bursts of stormy rhetoric during the score's Dies irae setting. The RMP singers took the night's honours for sustained excellence."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, June 23 2005
Fronting Eternity, April 23 2005
"There is a sense of the epic in this impressive three-part work. The choral writing works on the emotive level, sometimes heard in short, punctuated phrases, then in large, sweeping statements. Under the direction of Andrew Wailes, the choir and orchestra delivered a homogenous result."
Xenia Hanusiak, Herald Sun, April 27 2005
"... the music is a terrific blend of movement and space, emotional and metaphysical at the same time. Under artistic director Andrew Wailes, the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic choir and orchestra gave the work an enthusiastic premiere, expressed in their performance and in their warm applause for the composer afterwards."
Martin Bell, The Australian, April 26 2005
"Central to the program, (is) Gordon Kerry's cantata Fronting Eternity ... laced with fire imagery and Kerry responds with a scintillating, restless orchestral underpinning ... the final pages' vision of earth and sea reveals a heart-warming generosity of imagination from both poet and composer, a moving and successful meeting of minds, persuasively brought to life by the willing and enthusiastic Philharmonic forces."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, April 26 2005
Messiah, December 18 2004
Messiah is still sacred for some
"Under the prodigious musical direction of Andrew Wailes, last Sunday's performance ... did not disappoint ... He restrained his musicians who, though capable of lifting the roof, provided subtle light and shade throughout the choral classic."
"While the famous Hallelujah chorus is always a highlight of the production, this year the strains of Since By Man Came Death were exceptionally moving. The chorus delivered both subtlety and strength, providing sweetness and darkness."
Kylie Stotnicki, Sunday Herald Sun, December 26 2004
Gurrelieder, Melbourne International Arts Festival, October 23 2004
"... Markus Stenz conducted the Melbourne Chorale, the men from the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Their combined impact proved most impressive, the group's first entry causing a sonic shock after the many preceding vocal solos and orchestral interludes... Thanks to a formidable display of craft from all participants, this remarkable, uplifting work made the best possible conclusion to a patchwork festival, pretty much overshadowing everything else through its consistency of achievement, impressive scale and intrinsic artistic merit."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, October 26 2004
The Gordon Assumption, Melbourne International Arts Festival, October 7 - 23 2004
"One Melbourne International Arts Festival attraction in particular has been prompting some interesting responses. We heard of a woman who fled from a certain city toilet block in terror after eerie voices began emanating from it, reportedly thinking it was a witches' coven. The Gordon Assumption is a sound installation at the toilet block in Gordon Reserve on Spring Street. By David Chesworth and Sonia Leber, it features recorded vocals by about 30 female members of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir. Bewitching, yes, but no broomsticks."
The Age, October 19 2004
Elijah, July 31 2004
Lost work profits all
"... under RMP music director and chief conductor Andrew Wailes' inspired direction, (the combined forces) gave the two-part masterwork a thrilling performance. The music-making defied the amateur status of the 130-voice choir and 60-member orchestra ... Macann and fellow principal soloists, soprano Kirsti Harms, mezzo-soprano Roxane Hislop and high-timbred tenor David Hobson, brought their considerable operatic experience to the oratorio platform - with telling impact. But it was the choir that shook the town hall walls and rafters with their volume."
Bob Crimeen, Sunday Herald Sun, August 8 2004
Pathos from Macann: choir indefatigable
"... the Philharmonic was the star of the show...The choir had four clear and solid vocal sections that worked very responsively ... the massive panels of fugato that Mendelssohn constructs ... sounded clear and purposeful; the observation of dynamic differentiations heightened the work's drama and ... the singers exhibited few signs of fatigue, even in the taxing final pages."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, August 4 2004
"Tradition is the quintessence of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic, which in its 151st year is the oldest surviving cultural organisation of (colonised) Australia. ... there was a capacity crowd at the Melbourne Town Hall for this concert by the RMP choir and orchestra, with a distinguished line-up of soloists. Conductor Andrew Wailes was in control of all his forces throughout, ensuring confident entries from the choir and band, as well as good balance between the two. The RMP orchestra is neither a permanent nor a professional ensemble but it played with purpose and attack. ... The heart and soul of the RMP is of course the choir. There is an irrepressible enthusiasm to this 100-plus ensemble, tailor-made for the rousing choruses of religious oratorios. The singers are disciplined and attentive ..."
Martin Ball, The Australian, August 3 2004
Spirit of Anzac Day, April 25 2004
Musical tributes to the fallen
"Nicholas Buc's Sky Saga ... setting of three poems by Australian pilot and one-time federal minister Sir Thomas White involved orchestra, choir and two important speaking parts. ... The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra both gave fluid and enthusiastic accounts of its mildly taxing material."
"Soprano Lisa Harper-Brown and baritone Lucas de Jong took the solo lines in the Vaughn Williams cantata [Dona Nobis Pacem], that reaches its finest moments in the setting of Whitman's Dirge for Two Veterans, accomplished with impressive power by the combined choral and instrumental forces. De Jong worked with considerable character through the Reconciliation and The Angel of Death movements; Harper-Brown showed her sympathy with the work in a considered, stately approach and her voice's sound-colour had clear resonances with this style of British occasional music."
"Andrew Wailes conducted most of the program, steering the choir through the dangerous a capella Barber piece [Agnus Dei] and encouraging everyone, from the unabashed bass drum to Jonathan Bradley at the Town Hall's massive organ, to perform with full commitment."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, April 27 2004
Messiah, December 21 2003
Messiah leads the way for tradition
"The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic has many reasons to celebrate. And it shared the celebration with the audience."
"... the complex melodies danced evenly throughout all sections of the choir ... the audience witnessed the momentous sound the Philharmonic can make. It was both heard and felt as the booming timpani and the deep bass notes of the organ resonated throughout the hall, ending to a unanimous standing ovation."
Kylie Skotnicki, Sunday Herald Sun, December 28 2003
"... There was plenty of momentum in this reading of Mozart�s setting of the oratorio. The choir sang with clipped note and the decorous passages were treated with delicacy. The choir had a consistent energy and focus, and the four soloists dispatched their arias and recitatives with similar spark ... This was a candid and agile Messiah and a fitting finale for the sesquicentennial celebrations."
Xenia Hanusiak, Herald Sun, December 23 2003
Last Night of the Proms, June 8 2003
Restrained emotion from Haggart
"... the original touch of the occasion came in Elgar's cantata The Spirit of England, settings of three poems by Laurence Binyon. This rarity ... showed several different facets of the righteous veneer that colours the poet's vision, notably in the sudden washes of pathos from the choir during For the Fallen and some emotionally restrained, moving moments from Haggart at the start of the middle section, To Women. ... this substantial work made quite an impact ..."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, June 10 2003
Gurrelieder - Perth International Arts Festival, January 26 2003
Chorus Master: Andrew Wailes. The male and mixed choruses included members of the RMP
"Maestro Masson commented that this had been the finest performance of the work that he had conducted (Masson having conducted the piece more than any other living conductor in the world, being a veteran of at least four previous performances of the work with professional orchestras in other parts of the world), stating that:
"...the AYO excelled itself and rose to the occasion, providing an extraordinary beautiful orchestral sound and wonderful solos from all sections of the orchestra.. The AYO is a fine orchestra and Australia should be very proud of these young musicians who performed with great maturity and courage � it was also a joy to work with such a fine chorus in Perth, and to experience such dedication and commitment to the performance from the many choristers. Their energy and technical performance was also of the highest standard, and I would particularly like to congratulate Andrew Wailes for his excellent preparation of the chorus and valuable assistance."
Elizabeth Rowlands, Independent Arts Review, 2003
"... it left its WA audience sounding roars of approval ... Most impressive was the combination of the orchestra with the vocal power of the choir. Three huge male choruses plus an eight-part mixed choir completely filled the upper balcony of the Concert Hall. Their frequent "hollas!" almost brought down the roof."
Malcolm Rock, Voice News, February 1-8 2003
"an exultant staging of Gurrelieder � a sell out success ... a profound and unforgettable experience for performers and audience alike ... When, nearly two hours after the work commenced, the assembled forces delivered the spectacular Hymn to the Sun that concludes Gurrelieder, the concert hall audience was unable to contain its enthusiasm, rising to its feet for a tremendous extended ovation."
Richard John, The Australian, January 31 2003
A Philharmonic Christmas, December 22 2002
"The twilight concert began with a splendid effort from all involved: Giovanni Gabrieli's massive Jubilate Deo in eight parts, singers and brass players surrounding the audience in an approximation of the St Mark's Venetian performance. This produced a glorious complex of sonorities, driving music that piled up layer on layer of consonant choral and instrumental sound in an impressive fabric."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, December 28 2002
Carmina Burana, October 13 2002
"At the opening to these verses, the sheer volume of sound hurled out into the Town Hall by the choristers was immensely satisfying."
"Conductor Peter Bandy controlled these forces, keeping a leash on male voices anxious to jump the gun, and encouraging the Melbourne Youth Orchestra to match the singing in aggressiveness and stamina. The outcome was a reading of great appeal, waves of sound rolling around the hall's large air space, balanced by precise articulation from the tenors and an unexpected piquant vitality from the combined female forces, particularly in the higher reaches that Orff occasionally explores."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, October 16 2002
Durufle Requiem and Quatre Motets, August 30 2002
"The main work, Durufle's Requiem ... held many worthy moments, in particular from the women's voices in the opening and closing pages. Mezzo Tania Ferris gave a dramatic, vivid account of the Pie Jesu..."
"... the choral realisation of Durufle's fusion of chant, closely knit, parallel harmonic motion and generous lyricism came across strongly in a performance of obvious sympathy, as well as environmental appropriateness."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, September 4 2002
Bracanin Symphony No. 2, May 11 2002
"Sharon Kempton's soprano soared through the often luminous and urgently driven solo settings ... while the choir made a full-bodied display during the jubilant final strophes produced by Bracanin to conclude Wright's The Harp and the King."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, May 13 2002
Mozart Mass in C Minor, May 11 2002
"The night's most convincing performance, however, came in the Mozart C Minor Mass ... From the opening Kyrie, the combined forces displayed much comfort in their work ... the fascination of this Mass emerges in the long lines for chorus, here split into two discreet parts with even the undermanned tenor groups contriving to project a brave sound. The vocal and instrumental levels of accomplishment might not have been consistent or flawless in delivery, but this concert once again gave evidence both of the willing spirit infusing both choir and orchestra and also the organisational prowess of their young conductor."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, May 13 2002
Handel Messiah, March 30 2002
New energy for old favourite
"By presenting the work at this stage of the year, the performers are reviewing one of their more considerable successes of 2001. Last December, the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and the Australian Classical Players under Andrew Wailes performed Messiah at the Melbourne Town Hall with jaunty enthusiasm and youthful vitality. Again on Saturday, there were no signs of fatigue."
"Wailes was clearly on a mission to strip away the grime accumulated over two centuries on this monumental work ..."
"The orchestra was whisked along briskly, with no space to wallow in sentiment ... there is a clarity about this approach which turns the oratorio into an attractive set of familiar musical landscapes, avoiding the heftiness and joyless style of interpretation that can inform the score with ponderous Victorian religiosity."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, April 2 2002
Handel Messiah, December 16 2001
Rousing Year's End
"... the choir produced an exciting reading of the Christmas-time favourite. Wailes made sure that the pace did not slacken ..."
"Wailes, who cuts a dapper, self-possessed figure on the podium, showed an impressive compulsion, driving his forces along with insistent power. It is hard to recall when this oratorio has been treated with such attention given to its dramatic potential; no singer-soloist or chorister-was given latitude to generate that fruity and orotund timbre familiar from performances of 20 years ago."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, December 18 2001
Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem, August 26 2001
"The combined choirs of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society and the Melbourne University Choral Society, 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. This performance will be remembered for its generous spirit and ardent warmth."
Xenia Hanusiak, Herald Sun, August 28 2001
"The combined forces of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and the Melbourne University Choral Society put about 200 voices into play and their sound was satisfyingly full and penetrating ... both vigour and excitement abounded in the choral work on Sunday, bringing to mind the best nights of the RMPS."
Joel Crotty, The Age, August 28 2001
Last Night of the Proms, June 10 2001
Revelry sets the tone
"To make a Prom concert work, you must have musicians covering every bit of the platform ... the Australian Classical Players, the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir, the Melbourne University Choral Society, all made a mighty big sound when called upon to do so by conductor Andrew Wailes ... under the direction of Andrew Wailes the orchestral playing was careful and concise. He invited no risky ventures ... (the choir) sang in a controlled but rousing manner. There was a repeat performance of this event later in the evening, and people were queued quite a distance up Collins Street."
Joel Crotty, The Age, June 12 2001
"An enthusiastic audience cheered, whistled, flew the flag and sang ... like professional promenaders. This audience needed little coaxing. There was much to commend. The Australian Classical Players and the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir under the direction of Andrew Wailes were in fine form ... a roaring, over-the-top suuccess."
Xenia Hanusiak, Herald Sun, June 12 2001
Mahler Symphony No.8, May 13 2001
Choir was brilliant
"I wish to add to Xenia Hanusiak's review of the Melbourne Symphony's performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 as part of the Centenary of Federation Festival. An extraordinary contribution was made by the adult and children's choirs. This combined choir of about 700 choristers from Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra gave the performance of a lifetime.
They made themselves available over a year of preparation, and 20 hours of rehearsal in the last week. They were as integral to these successful performances as was the Melbourne Symphony itself and have our deepest gratitude."
Markus Stenz, MSO chief conductor and artistic director
Your Say, Herald Sun, May 2001
"Sydney got there first, but Melbourne got it right. The Royal Exhibition Building shook as the ecstatic chorus Veni, Creator erupted in Part I of Mahler's colossal, all-vocal (sic) 8th Symphony, The Symphony of a Thousand. ... the unity of the 11 combined choirs was stunning. This was a spine-tingling, unforgettable experience for artists and audience alike. Eat your heart out, Sydney."
Andrew Scott, Sunday Herald Sun, May 20 2001
"... this stirring performance had the audience on its feet even before the conductor had time to turn and face the applause ... the massed choirs seemed to not put a foot wrong, and their ability to work within the symphony's crescendo and decrescendo markings gave the work due body and shape."
Jeremy Vincent, The Australian, May 14 2001
"The orchestra - extended for this night - played with stirling accuracy and forthrightness. But the choral work was equally fine, particularly in the final extraordinary segment which starts almost in a whisper and rises to one of the music's highest climaxes - the sort of experience that raises the hair on the head and is calculated to bring an audience roaring to its feet."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, May 14 2001
"Mahler a triumph ... the opening Veni Creator Spiritus bristled with a razor edge ..."
Xenia Hanusiak, Herald Sun, May 15 2001
Carols for a King, December 19 2000
"The Melbourne Philharmonic chose a liberal path for its presentation of the traditional lesson and carols ... An impressively large audience took part in a festive offering that detoured to many musical landscapes."
"Musical director, Andrew Wailes, obviously places variety high on his agenda ... (he) also called for a wide range of vocal dynamics and tempi ... the stratospheric descants never seem to tire".
Xenia Hanusiak, Herald Sun, December 18 2000
Britten War Requiem, November 11 2000
"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. No section needed propping up at any stage, and it handled all the demands, from the smooth legato lines to the jagged rhythmic paragraphs, with dexterity ..."
Joel Crotty, The Age, November 14 2000
"Tough act to follow ... credit must go to the team at Independent Classics for realising this epic undertaking with panache ... The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic gave a creditable performance. Conductor Nicholas Braithewaite affirmed the expressive qualities and the choir responded with a dramatic reading."
Xenia Hanusiak, Herald Sun, November 14 2000
Verdi Requiem, August 26 2000
"The conductor ... contrived to draw the best out of the choral forces, achieving a response rate as prompt and willing as any conductor could want... Without doubt, the evening's successful centrepoint was the choir, which impressed for its balance between constituent parts and a realisation of this great work, a minefield of difficulties in dynamics, expressiveness and pitch."
Clive O'Connell, The Age, August 29 2000
Haydn Creation, June 2000
"Conductor Andrew Wailes coaxed a disciplined response from choir and orchestra in a measured, dramatic rendering ... the choirs certainly produced some weighty chorus work, usually without sacrificing clarity or intonation ... It is a rare treat to see choristers in this city attacking their parts with such unrestrained vigor and enthusiasm."
Johanna Selleck, Herald Sun, June 17 2000