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Andrew Wailes

Artistic Director and Conductor,

The Australian Children’s Choir

Andrew Wailes is widely regarded as one of the country’s leading young conductors and choral directors, and enjoys a busy career both in Australia and increasingly overseas, as both a performer and educator. He has directed The Australian Children’s Choir since 1999, overseeing The ACC’s expansion from two small ensembles to five, leading the choir on five international tours, and directing many high profile performances both in Melbourne and around Australia. He is a passionate advocate of Music Education for all children, and brings a wealth of professional performing and teaching experience to his role as mentor and role model to the children of The ACC.

In 1999 Andrew was the inaugural winner of the prestigious Australasian International Choral Conducting Competition in Brisbane, and appeared with the Candomino Chamber Choir from Helsinki, Finland. He has also appeared with major choirs from the USA, Sweden, England, South Africa, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand as guest conductor. He has frequently appeared overseas, touring and conducting in countries such as China, Germany, Austria, England, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia and New Zealand. In 2010 he adjudicated eisteddfods and competitions in Shanghai, Auckland and North Queensland, and directed a season of opera and orchestral concerts throughout the People’s Republic of China with the Victorian Festival Orchestra. In 2011 he led The ACC on a concert tour to Germany, Austria and England. In 2012 Andrew was invited to participate in a conducting symposium hosted by the Weill Institute and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City at Carnegie Hall. He has subsequently led The ACC on tours to the USA, Canada, The People’s Republic of China, and in 2016 led a special tour of the East coast of Australia to mark the choir’s 40th Anniversary. In 2018 he will lead a tour to Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary.

Andrew has been Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra since 1998, making him one of the youngest persons to hold that position in over 150 years, and has been awarded Life membership of the RMP (only the third conductor ever to be granted that honour). Andrew has also directed the Melbourne University Choral Society since 1992, and is now that choir’s longest serving conductor and one of only two Life Members of MUCS in its 70 year history. He is also Conductor and Music Director of the Box Hill Chorale, and for twelve years was a Lecturer and Director of Choral Studies at the Australian Catholic University, until the University closed down its music course in 2011. In 2010 Andrew accepted an invitation to become a ‘Visiting Guest Maestro’ at the prestigious ‘Escuela de Dirección de Orquesta y Banda’ in Spain, working with post-graduate conducting students preparing for the Royal Academy of Music examinations in London. Since 2013 Andrew has also directed The Chamber Strings of Melbourne.

Andrew is a former Principal Guest Conductor of the Australian Classical Players Orchestra; he has previously directed the faculty choirs at Melbourne and Monash Universities, at the Melba Conservatorium of Music, and for three years directed the award-winning symphony orchestra program at Blackburn High School. Andrew made his international conducting debut with the Christchurch Sinfonia (New Zealand) in 2001 and has been guest conductor of ensembles including the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra, Camerata Academica Freiburg and Orchester der Universitat Stuttgart (Germany), the Yale Glee Club and Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum (USA), and local ensembles such as Orchestra Victoria, the VCA Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Youth Orchestra, the Melbourne Sinfonia, Stonnington Symphony, Geelong Philharmonic and Monash University Chamber Orchestras.

Andrew co-conducted the world premiere season of Julian Yu’s opera The Possessed, for Chamber Made Opera and in 2005 conducted Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia for Lyric Opera of Melbourne (receiving a prestigious Green Room Award nomination for best opera conductor). He also assisted Maestro Valery Gergiev as backstage conductor and extra chorus director for the Kirov Opera’s acclaimed performances of The Fiery Angel for the Melbourne International Festival. He has prepared major works for leading international conductors including the late Sir Charles Mackerras, David Hill, Diego Masson, Jindong Chai, Douglas Boyd, Markus Stenz, Nicholas Braithwaite, Christopher Bell and Albert Rosen.

Andrew has appeared with many leading international artists, including the American rock band ‘Kiss’ and the MSO, and with many Australian popular artists including many performances with The ACC. He has directed choirs for many major televised events around the country, including six AFL Grand Finals, five International Comedy Festival Gala Concerts, the opening of Sydney’s Olympic Stadium and Melbourne’s Federation Square, at the Australian Film Industry Awards, the Logies, the Closing Ceremony of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, the opening ceremony of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the Melbourne Awards and The President’s Cup Gala. Most recently he has conducted at major events including the Prime Minister’s Olympic Dinner, the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at the Shrine of Remembrance, the AFL Grand Final, the  Melbourne Cup Telecast, international Rugby Tests, and many other major events.


He he has directed choirs on a long list of commercial recordings, with major artists including JOHN Farnham and Olivia Newton John, Delta Goodrem, Dami Im, Judith Durham and Mark Vincent.

A trained singer himself, Andrew has performed with groups such as Opera Australia, IHOS Opera, Past Echoes Early Music Ensemble, the National Youth Choir of Australia and as a part of numerous professional recording ensembles. He has also many years of experience as a church musician, having been a member of various Royal School of Church Music Choirs, and has a wide range of multi- denominational experience as a liturgical musican. He is a former President of the Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies Association and is listed in the inaugural edition of the Who’s Who in Victoria, as well as the international edition of Strathmore’s Who’s Who.

Andrew is an experienced public speaker, and is regularly engaged as an adjudicator, conductor or workshop leader at various summer schools and festivals around the country including appearances at the Melbourne Youth Music Summer School, the Sydney International Music Festival, Geelong Summer Music Camp and State Music Camps. He is in demand across Australia as an adjudicator at competitions and eisteddfods, having adjudicated at various Queensland  Eisteddfoddau, the City of Hobart Eisteddfod, numerous North Queensland Eisteddfods and at many of Melbourne’s major Eisteddfoddau. He has also been an International Juror at the Washington D.C International Choral Competition in the USA.

In November 2012 Andrew was made a Life Member of The Australian Children’s Choir, in recognition of his 12 years of service to the choir as Artistic Director and Conductor.