"The long and distinguished career of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic, suspended during the coronavirus lockdown, was admirably back on track as soon as restrictions eased. With just a few rehearsals available, the Choir combined with the RMP Chamber Orchestra and four superb soloists to produce a memorable performance of their 241st Messiah, continuing an unbroken sequence of annual performances since 1853. Conducted by Andrew Wailes with flair, precision and utmost respect to spiritual expression and tradition, this occasion also marked the 37th Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Concert... For fifteen years (sic), RMP’s Artistic Director, Andrew Wailes, has continued to share passion, determination in hard times, and commitment to historical traditions in performances of large-scale works at the highest standards. The creativity shown in this Messiah, the joy of live performance, the execution of high-class musicianship and the visual colour made this a different and highly memorable experience. .
"Conductor Andrew Wailes inspires and insists on great attention to detail, honest interpretation and enunciation of text, balance in choral and instrumental accompaniment of the four solo voices, and passionate contrasts of feeling and tone colour... There were spontaneous shouts of “Bravo!” for this grand opening by an accomplished choir, orchestra, soloists and masterful conductor with an exemplary, exciting and heartfelt quality performance. "
"The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir was similarly strong as a chorus of (frequently diabolical) angels, managing the complicated and motoric rhythmic organisation of the work with ironclad confidence. Andrew Wailes admirably conducted the non-stop extravaganza through its various contrasting states of frenzy and calm. "
“The highlight of the program was Prokofiev’s great cantata, Alexander Nevsky. After hearing this wonderful performance I have to wonder why it is not heard more often. However, its massive concept and complexity could only be tackled by a few choirs in this country – and they would need the support of a great orchestra. On this occasion both factors were present plus, in Wailes, a conductor who could hold it all together. . The choir impressed with the rounded sound needed for Russian music, and singing that was harmonious and full…. I could not imagine a better performance – even in Russia!”
“Andrew Wailes directed his music makers with the inspirational precision and the attention to detail that is his hallmark. All the works on the program required considerable sonic power for full effect. If Elgar’s motivation for composing was, as he said, “to fix the sounds and longing for something very great” then he needed a sizeable and capable instrument at his disposal – something to produce a visceral experience for performers and audience alike."
“Since 1998 its reputation for fine music-making has been entrusted to the inspirational leadership of Music Director and Chief Conductor, Andrew Wailes. Audiences have come to expect uplifting, dynamic performances with carefully nuanced attention to detail. On Sunday evening that is exactly what they got… the orchestra responded to Wailes’ brisk tempi with enthusiastic energy. As with the choir, attention to detail added to the drama and vitality of the entire performance.”
“… 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 the excellent 60-member orchestra … it was the choir that shook the town hall walls and rafters with their volume.”
“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…”
“…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.”
“The Kyrie set the solemn tone of the mass, with Maestro Wailes paying great attention to detail. He conducted with conviction, clear beat, and good eye contact with the musicians who responded accordingly. Wailes brought out the best of the orchestra and chorus, with a good understanding of the nuances, dynamics, and tempi. The choral singing and performance demeanour were superb.”
“Proper rehearsal preparation and Wailes’ attention to both choir and orchestra was clear from the outset, with a considerable amount of articulation and phrasing providing a stark contrast to many other local performances in recent years. There was a remarkable sense of ensemble from all on stage, with pleasingly consistent rhythmic precision, and clear articulation of text a constant feature. Even in some of the stunningly rapid passages, every note was clearly and crisply delivered by both vocal and orchestral forces, Wailes delivering both energy, self-assurance, and a neat focus throughout the two and a half hour epic.”
“Singing without scores, Andrew Wailes’ excellent RMP Choir excelled themselves in what was a reprise of the MSO’s premiere performance of this great work with the RMP under Joseph Post in 1955. Why it has not been performed by the MSO since 1981 is difficult to fathom. Although some members of the audience seemed keen to spring to their feet very readily at various points throughout the evening, the standing ovation that greeted the Choral Fantasy involved most of the audience.”
“Conductor Andrew Wailes engineered some splendid passages in Sunday evening’s reading of The Dream of Gerontius, eliciting a powerful and evenly distributed dynamic range from the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir, Melbourne University Choral Society, and the Australian Catholic University Choir; a large body of singers with praiseworthy responsiveness and precision… the female voices gave exemplary service. "
“Conductor Andrew Wailes was in complete control of all his forces throughout, ensuring confident entries from the choir and band, as well as a good balance between the two. The RMP orchestra… played with purpose and attack. … The singers are disciplined and attentive …”
“Conductor Andrew Wailes is no stranger to this work, having directed many accomplished performances of this piece. His understanding of the score, from his attention to balance and detail throughout the entirety of the piece was clear.”
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