Andrew Wailes enjoys a busy performing and teaching schedule both in Australia and increasingly overseas, as a conductor, chorus-master, workshop leader, professional singer and an experienced adjudicator. He is widely regarded as one of Australia's leading symphonic choral conductors, having directed many of Melbourne's major choirs over a twenty-five-year career that has seen him perform an impressive repertoire of major symphonic choral works, as well as a wide range of orchestral, opera, chamber and a capella music.
Andrew began his musical studies as a flautist, and as a chorister in various Royal School of Church Music choirs, later studying advanced orchestral conducting with the late Robert Rosen and voice with David Ross-Smith. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree and Certificates in Applied Music (in Orchestral and Choral Conducting) at Monash University, and following studies in Political Science and Law, concentrated on his musical career, studying conducting with leading international choral specialists including Simon Halsey, and John Rutter (UK), Jo-Michael Scheibe, and Professor Rod Eichenberger (USA), Stefan Parkman (Denmark) as well as some of Australia's leading conducting pedagogues.
Andrew has been Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra since 1998 and is now the RMP’s second longest-serving conductor in its 167-year history. For almost 30 years Andrew has directed the Melbourne University Choral Society and Box Hill Chorale, and for over 20 years was the Artistic Director of The Australian Children’s Choir, successfully leading them on major international tours to England, New Zealand, China, Canada, USA, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and extensively around Australia. Andrew is a former Principal Guest Conductor of The Australian Classical Players' Orchestra, the Chamber Strings of Melbourne, and has conducted Faculty Choirs and ensembles at the University of Melbourne Faculty of Music, Monash University, Melba Conservatorium, and Victorian College of the Arts. For ten years he lectured in conducting and directed choral studies at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, and has also lectured in Music History and Performance Acoustics at the Quantam SAE Institute.
In 1999 Andrew was the winner of the prestigious Australasian International Choral Conducting Competition in Brisbane.
He has appeared as guest conductor with major choirs and orchestras from the USA, Finland, Sweden, UK, South Africa, Ireland, Canada, Italy, France, Germany and New Zealand, with groups such as the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra, Camerata Academica Freiburg, and Orchester der Universität Stuttgart (Germany), Bach Choir of London (UK), Guangzhou Philharmonic (China), Christchurch Sinfonia (NZ) Yale Glee Club and Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum (USA), Candomino Choir (Finland), and local ensembles such as Orchestra Victoria, Melbourne Opera Orchestra, Chamber Made Opera, Lyric Opera of Melbourne, VCA Symphony Orchestra, Royal Australian Navy Band, Melbourne Youth Orchestra, the Academy of Melbourne, Choir of Trinity College Melbourne, The Impossible Orchestra, Brisbane Symphony Orchestra, the Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir, Sinfonia of St Andrew's and Stonnington Symphony Orchestra.
With these and other ensembles Andrew has conducted a wide range of repertoire, across all styles and major periods of musical history, including hundreds of major symphonic choral works including: Handel’s Messiah (all versions), J.S. Bach’s Easter Oratorio, St Matthew and St John Passions, Beethoven's Mass in C and Choral Fantasy; Orff’s Carmina Burana; Verdi’s Messa da Requiem and Quattro Pezzi Sacri, Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony (No.1), Towards the Unknown Region and Dona Nobis Pacem; Rachmaninov’s Vespers, and The Bells; Tchaikovsky's Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem and Schicksalslied; Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, The Musicmakers, The Spirit of England and Sea Pictures; Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Haydn’s The Creation and Missa in Angustiis; Mozart’s Requiem, Great Mass in C minor and Solemn Vespers; Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, Te Deum and Requiem; Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky; Faure's Requiem, Rutter's Requiem and Gloria, Ola Gjeilo's Sunrise Mass and Morten Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna.
A strong advocate of emerging and local composers, Andrew has commissioned and conducted numerous first performances of new works by Australians such as the late Peter Sculthorpe and Colin Brumby, Gordon Kerry, Carl Vine, Stephen Leek, Christopher Willcock, Stuart Greenbaum, John Peterson, Jane Hammond, Stefan Cassomenos, Nicholas Buc and Dindy Vaughan.
As a chorus master, Andrew has prepared choirs for many leading international conductors including the late Sir Charles Mackerras, Valery Gergiev, Diego Masson, Marcus Stenz, Diego Matheuz, Ludwig Wicki, Douglas Boyd, Christopher Bell, Sir Andrew Davis and David Hill, and for groups such as the Kirov Opera, Australian Youth Orchestra, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, The Australian Ballet, Orchestra Victoria, Australian Intervarsity Choral Festival, the Melbourne Festival and Perth International Arts Festival. Major works he has prepared include Mahler's 8th and 2nd Symphonies, Schoenberg's Gurrelieder, Britten's War Requiem, Dvorak's Stabat Mater and Requiem, Beethoven's 9th Symphony and numerous film scores including The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Bizet's opera Carmen.
As a conductor, Andrew has directed choirs for many major televised events, including the opening of Federation Square in Melbourne and Stadium Australia in Sydney, the opening ceremony of the Parliament of the World's Religions, the closing ceremony of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, the Melbourne Cup, the ANZAC Day Dawn Service and Battle for Australia at the Shrine of Remembrance, the President's Cup, the Logies, the Australian Film Industry Awards, and the 2016 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo to name a few. Andrew also directed the Massed Our Christmas Gift Choir for the Salvation Army for a number of years, and regularly directs performances in conjunction with Australia's Defence Force ensembles at major military and civic events at the Shrine of Remembrance. He has been a session conductor or prepared choirs for the chart-topping albums by artists including John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John, Mark Vincent, Hayley Westenra, Silvie Paladino, Judith Durham and Missy Higgins, and regularly collaborates with legendary Australian producer and arranger Chong Lim AM.
A trained singer, Andrew has a great deal of experience as a chorister in various chamber, liturgical and symphonic choirs, and also as a professional soloist in concert and oratorio, and opera. He has performed on stage professionally with groups such as Opera Australia, IHOS Opera, Past Echoes Early Music Ensemble, and is a former member of the National Youth Choir of Australia. He has also performed backing vocals for popular artists including Josh Groban, Michael Bublé, Michael Crawford, Delta Goodrem, Tim Minchin, John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John, Tim Campbell and Mark Vincent.
Andrew founded the RMP Aria oratorio competition in Melbourne in 2006 and advises International Music Festivals in the USA and Europe. He is also an experienced Adjudicator, having served in that capacity at various competitions around Australia, USA, China and New Zealand. In recent years he has served as a Judge at the Washington D.C. International Choral Festival, USA, a juror at the China International Choirs Festival, Beijing and the Shanghai International Choral Festival in China. Andrew was also a guest Adjudicator at the 2019 7th World Orchestra Festival in Sydney, the City of Hobart Eisteddfod, the North Queensland Eisteddfod in Cairns, Mackay Eisteddfod, City of Toowoomba Eisteddfod.
An intrepid traveller, Andrew has regularly led Australian ensembles around the world, frequently conducting orchestral and opera performances throughout China (over 100 concerts in 25 cities). He has organized and led choir tours to countries such as England, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, France, Poland, Hungary, China, New Zealand, Hong Kong, USA, and Canada. With these ensembles, he has conducted in many of the world's most important venues, from Carnegie Hall and Washington National Cathedral in the US, to Westminster Abbey, Edinburgh Castle and Coventry Cathedral in the UK, to Xian Concert Hall, Beijing's Forbidden City Concert Hall, The Shanghai Grand Theater and Guangzhou's Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall in China, Salzburg Cathedral, the Great Hall of the Salzburg Mozarteum and the Vienna Musikverein in Austria, L'église de la Madeleine in Paris, Smetana Hall in Prague, and most recently in the Papal Basilica of St Peter in the Vatican.
Andrew has performed at all of Australia's major venues, from the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Town Hall and Angel Place City Recital Hall, to Hamer Hall, Melbourne Town Hall and Melbourne Recital Centre, Perth Concert Hall, Adelaide's Elder Hall and Festival Theatre, Hobart's Federation Concert Hall, and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre St John's Cathedral in Brisbane.
Andrew has been the recipient of several awards and nominations including a prestigious Green Room Award Nomination (for best Opera Conductor). In 2019 he was the recipient of a Deakin Community Award, and he proud to be a Life Member or Patron of no less than six Melbourne choirs and orchestras. Andrew is listed in the inaugural edition of the Who’s Who in Victoria and the International Edition of Strathmore's Who's Who.
Archibald Prize entry portrait of Andrew Wailes, by Melbourne-based artist Catherine Paton
Andrew Wailes pictured with artist Catherine Paton and her 2018 portrait of Andrew.
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