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Those happy souls fortunate enough to secure seats for the Oriana Choir’s upcoming concert series, Mozart’s Requiem and Ola Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass, are doubly fortunate.

Why so?

Simply because Oriana itself has been fortunate in securing the services of one of Australia’s most accomplished and acclaimed choral conductors to lead it in staging this marvellous presentation.

Andrew Wailes is a man for whom music is not merely a way of life; it is his life. Andrew is one of Australia’s busiest, and most accomplished choral conductors. His particular passion is for symphonic choral works, and he is in demand all over Australia, and internationally.

His musical experience is vast and extensive; he has worked with choirs, singers, instrumentalists, composers, arrangers and people from many other disciplines, in many musical genres, over many years.

A look at Andrew’s Wikipedia entry, for example, will give you some idea of the extent of his experience and achievements. Here is a brief extract:

“He is the current Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra; Principal Conductor of the Melbourne University Choral Society; and Music Director and Conductor of the Box Hill Chorale. From 1999 to 2020 he served as Artistic Director of The Australian Children's Choir, and for a decade was Director of the Australian Catholic University Melbourne Campus Choir. He is a former President of the Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies Association, and is a former Artistic Administrator and Artistic Director of The Chamber Strings of Melbourne.”

Many of Oriana’s regular supporters will remember that Andrew was the Choir’s Music Director and Conductor for its highly successful and enthusiastically received performances of Mendelssohn’s Elijah in 2019.

Choristers were pretty much blown away by Andrew’s knowledge, his wisdom, his musicality, his sense of humour, his encouragement, his attention to detail, and the assurance that he was in total control of the situation. (That is a great source of comfort to choristers and orchestra members!)

As much as anything else, musicians and singers with whom Andrew works are impressed by his sheer efficiency. There is not a single moment wasted. At the end of a rehearsal session, it’s almost possible to mathematically measure the progress made from start to finish. Andrew was significantly instrumental – pun intended - in making the Elijah rehearsal and performance season run smoothly, efficiently, and pleasurably. And so it has been with his sessions for the Mozart and Ola Gjeilo works.

Andrew has shown the choir numerous techniques and ways to approach the music, in order to create the best possible choir sound, and interpretation of the music. One in particular made a significant difference to the solidity and strength of the choir’s sound. And it was a very simple, but ingenious thing to do. He took all of the voice parts, soprano, alto, tenor and bass, and did a voice placement. He had each individual sing a single note, ‘Ah’, and then grouped each member of that particular section in various configurations, until he found the optimum positioning for the best balance of voices.

It was quite remarkable what a difference it made – even whether one singer was on the left or right of another singer could make a difference. By Andrew’s estimation, the increase in vocal strength and volume of the total choir was increased by almost double what it was before the placement exercise. And this is just one example of many ways in which Andrew has been able to bring out the best that each individual chorister has to offer. He truly is inspirational. And how lucky are we to have him leading us for this wonderful musical programme!

So, not only will you have the exquisite pleasure of being treated to - not just one - but two absolutely fantastic musical works; but you will also have them brought to you by a superb choir, orchestra and soloists, under the guidance and direction of a conductor who can justifiably be called one the heroes of Australasian choral music.

Andrew Wailes conducts the Oriana Choir, the Sinfonia of St. Andrew’s, and featured soloists Elisabeth Wallis Gaedtke, soprano; Anne Fulton, alto; Philip Prendergast, tenor; and Shaun Brown, bass; performing Mozart’s Requiem and Ola Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass.

I’m making you an offer you really can’t refuse!

Ian Rix

2nd May, 2021.

Performances of the Requiem and Sunrise Mass will be at:

The Events Centre, Caloundra, Saturday, May 15th at 7.00 pm. Book your tickets at the venue or phone 54914240.

St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane, Sunday May 16th at 1.30 pm. Book your tickets at


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