Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus

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Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus
Also known as MGLC
Origin Melbourne, Australia
Genres Broadway, choral, classical, jazz, popular
Occupations Choir
Instruments ca. 100 voices
Years active 1990-present
Associated acts Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Youth Chorus
Members Interim Musical Director
Dr Kathleen McGuire
Assistant Musical Directors
Ben Leske, Stephanie Teh
Youth Chorus Musical Director
Ben Leske

Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus (MGLC), the first gay and lesbian choral organisation in the Southern Hemisphere, was founded in Australia in 1990 by gay performer and activist, Lawrence McGuire (1966 - ). The chorus was first named ALSOUNDS, due in part to its affiliation with the ALSO Foundation.[1] In April 1994, the name was changed to Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus, reflecting the chorus's organisational independence and a desire to further challenge stereotypes.


Gay Choirs in Australia[edit]

The first gay choir in Australia was the Gay Liberation Quire, an all-male, Sydney-based chorus. It began in 1981, and disbanded c. 1987.[2] McGuire, unaware of the Sydney group, learned for the first time of the existence of gay choruses while listening to an LP record, The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Tours America 1981, at a party. Inspired by the discovery, McGuire, along with his roommates (including his sister, Kathleen McGuire, and friend Tuck Wah Leong),[3] discussed the notion of forming a gay and lesbian choir in Melbourne. McGuire wanted to form a choir specifically with gay men and women in an effort to unify these sometimes divergent groups. AIDS had already caused much devastation in the gay community, and he believed that a choir would help to lift spirits and be a positive expression against homophobia.[4] With a small group of men and women, both gay and straight, the first rehearsal was held on 28 April 1990.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir (SGLC) began less than a year later in January 1991, independent of the Melbourne chorus. Rob Holland founded SGLC in response to the lack of Australian representation in the Cultural Festival of the Vancouver Gay Games, held in August 1990.[5]

Since then, many choirs with an LGBT focus have formed in Australia and also in New Zealand:

Chronology of Gay Choirs in Australia and New Zealand[edit]

  • Gay Liberation Quire (men's), Sydney (1981-1987)
  • Melbourne Gay & Lesbian Chorus, founded 1990
  • Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir, founded 1991
  • Gay & Lesbian Singers (GALS) Auckland, founded 1992
  • Canberra Gay and Lesbian Qwire, founded 1993
  • Gay and Lesbian Singers of Western Australia (GALSWA), founded 1993
  • Adelaide Gay & Lesbian Singers (1996 - 1999)
  • Brisbane Pride Chorus, founded 1998
  • Adelaide Gay & Lesbian Qwire, founded 2001
  • Melbourne Gay & Lesbian Youth Chorus, founded 2005
  • Cairns Out Loud Lesbian & Gay Choir, founded 2007
  • Homophones, gay men's chorus in Wellington (2007-2011)
  • LOW REZ Melbourne Male Choir, founded 2008
  • Glamaphones (mixed chorus), Wellington, founded 2011
  • QTas - Tasmania's LGBTIQ Choir, founded 2013


MGLC’s first Music Director was Trevor Dunn. Dunn, who was a music teacher at Kilbreda College - a Catholic girls' high school in Mentone, directed the group for a number of years before succumbing to AIDS.

Following a series of short-term conductors, Tuck Wah Leong took the helm as Music Director c. 1994 and directed the MGLC's first, award-winning CD and its first international tour.[6]

In 2001, MGLC appointed conductor Adrian Kirk, under whose direction the chorus developed a more sophisticated, classical sound.[7]

Dr Jonathon Welch AM - of the renowned operatic trio: Tenor Australis, and former conductor of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir - served as MGLC's Music Director from 2005 to 2007.

Darren Wicks was Musical Director for 2008.

In 2009, Adrian Schultz, the director of the Youth Chorus, was appointed Musical Director and served until July, 2013.

Ben Leske was appointed Musical Director of the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Youth Chorus.

Dr Kathleen McGuire served as interim Musical Director in 2009 and in 2013-2014.

Community involvement[edit]

Since its inception, the MGLC has provided support and outreach to the GLBTI community. Examples of regular community appearances include: annual Stonewall commemorative service for the Metropolitan Community Church; World AIDS Day ceremonies and services for the People Living With AIDS; Australia Day Picnic for GLBTI radio station, JOY Melbourne 94.9 FM.

Youth Chorus[edit]

In August 2005, MGLC founded the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Youth Chorus, the first chorus of its kind in Australasia. They have performed separately and with the main chorus at numerous events, and are putting together their first CD separate from the main choir.



  • 1st Prize, Community Choir Section, Boroondara Eisteddfod, 1995
  • Best Choir Award, Australian National Festival of the Voice, 1996
  • Best Debut Recording, Gay and Lesbian Music Awards (US), 1998
  • Rainbow Award, Best Live Performance, 2004
  • Rainbow Award, Best Live Performance, 2005
  • Rainbow Award, Best New Community Event for Youth Chorus's debut concert, 2006


Performance highlights[edit]


MGLC is an affiliate member of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA Choruses) and a member of the Australian National Choral Association.


  • Kaleidoscope (1996)
  • Inflight (1998)
  • Feelin’ Groovy (2006)
  • Evolution (2006)


  1. ^ "About Us - History". ALSO Foundation. Archived from the original on 2 February 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2007. 
  2. ^ "Gay Liberation Quire - god help you merry dykes and poofs, with Tuck Wah up your *ss". Queer Music Heritage, produced by JD Doyle. Retrieved 20 March 2007. ; see also "The Gay Liberation Quire, of Sydney, Australia". Queer Music Heritage. Retrieved 20 March 2007. 
  3. ^ In later years, Kathleen McGuire, became the Artistic Director and Conductor of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus (2000), and Tuck Wah Leong served as MGLC's gay pianist and then Music Director.
  4. ^ According to Lawrence McGuire and Tuck Wah Leong in interviews with the present author.
  5. ^ "What is the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir?". Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir. Archived from the original on 16 January 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2007. 
  6. ^ Artist bio "Biography, Tuck Wah Leong". The University of Melbourne. Retrieved 20 March 2007. 
  7. ^ "Biography, Adrian Kirk". Allegro Music Australia. Retrieved 20 March 2007. [dead link]

External links[edit]