Intervarsity Choral Festival (Australia)

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Australian Intervarsity Choral Festival
GenreChoral Festival
Location(s)Rotates between Australian cities
Previous eventAdelaide
Next eventBrisbane

The Australian Intervarsity Choral Festival is an annual event in which members of university choirs from all state capitals of Australia and the national capital Canberra meet for two weeks to rehearse, socialise and perform combined concerts. The Festival also serves as the annual conference of the member choirs of AICSA, the Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies Association


The festival is hosted by the AICSA choirs in a particular city on a rotational basis, the roster being maintained by AICSA's governing body, the Australian Intervarsity Choral Council (AIVCC). Most IVCFs have involved between 100 and 300 festival participants (choristers), who perform one to three concerts over the course of about two weeks, often accompanied by a major symphonic orchestra.

An example is the festival in 2008. IVCF was hosted by the Sydney University Musical Society[1] in association with other university choirs including Macquarie University Singers,[2] and the Music Society of the University of Technology (Sydney),[3] and performed a concert of English works including Thomas Tallis' 40-part motet Spem in Alium and Ralph Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music,[4] and one of Australian works including a commission from Anne Boyd[5] (see Promotion of Australian Composition below).

Recent festivals[edit]


The first Australian InterVarsity Choral Festival took place in 1950 when the Sydney University Musical Society (SUMS) hosted the Melbourne University Choral Society (MUCS) for a week-long rehearsal camp culminating in a combined concert. Other university choirs joined over the years, with all State and Territory capitals (except Darwin in the Northern Territory) having at least one member choir by 1973. The IVCF has since become the largest regularly occurring choral festival in Australia.

From 1975 on, when the 26th IVCF performed Verdi's Requiem in the then recently opened Sydney Opera House, IVCFs have striven to perform large-scale works to high standards with professional orchestras where appropriate and available. The 37th IVCF (Brisbane, 1986) was the first to work with its state's peak professional orchestra, the then Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the major work on the program being Herbert Howells' Hymnus Paradisi. Two years later (1988), to celebrate Australia's bicentennial, the 39th IVCF collaborated with the Sydney Philharmonia and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Charles Dutoit to perform Mahler's Symphony number 8 ("Symphony of a Thousand"), again in the Sydney Opera House.

More recently, the 55th IVCF (Perth, 2004) took part in the Perth International Arts Festival[8] to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Antonín Dvořák by performing his Stabat Mater with the Prague Chamber Orchestra[9] under Australian conductor Graham Abbott.

Promotion of Australian composition[edit]

IVCFs have a long if intermittent tradition of performance of works by Australian composers. At least sixteen performances since 1962 have included works commissioned by the festival, including Blue Gum Forest, composed by Matthew Orlovich for the 60th IVCF in 2009, Missa Pacifica by Anne Boyd, commissioned for the Sydney IVCF in 2008, and David Cassat's "Flesh to Stone" for semichorus and divisi main chorus, commissioned by the 56th IVCF (Melbourne) in 2005.

Many other InterVarsity Choral Festivals have included premiere performances of works, including Paul Stanhope's "Pirramimma" for three choirs and string ensemble, performed in 2007 in Brisbane through a collaboration between the 58th IVCF and the Bonyi International Youth Festival.

Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies Association
Formation1973; 46 years ago (1973)
PurposeMusical and social
Region served
University choral societies and student choirs

Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies Association[edit]

The organization behind the IVCF is the Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies Association (AICSA), which is a non-profit that represents each of the affiliated local choirs, with a purpose of encouraging choral music within tertiary academic settings. While officially formed in 1973, organizational cooperation to create the IVCF has existed since 1950. Since being officially formed, AICSA has acquired an increased role. Today, besides assisting in the organisation of the festival, it sponsors a database catalogue of music held by individual choirs, archives at the National Library of Australia, and internet resources via[10][11] The newsletter Erato was published 3-5 times a year from 1971 to 2012.[12]

Member societies[edit]

Melbourne University Choral Society (a founding member) singing Carmina Burana

As of September 2012, member societies were:

  • ACT
  • New South Wales
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Victoria
  • Western Australia


  1. ^ Sydney University Musical Society, Australia.
  2. ^ Macquarie University Singers, Australia.
  3. ^ Music Society of the University of Technology (Sydney), Australia.
  4. ^ SIV2008, Australia. Archived 19 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ SIV2008, Australia. Archived 19 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "65th Brisbane Intervarsity Choral Festival". 65th Brisbane Intervarsity Choral Festival. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  7. ^ "70th AIVCF". 70th Australian Intervarsity Choral Festival. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Prague Chamber Orchestra: UWA Perth International Arts Festival 2004 - Perth, Western Australia". UWA Perth International Arts Festival. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  9. ^ PKO — Prague Chamber Orchestra, Czech Republic.
  10. ^ "Introduction". Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies Association. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  11. ^ "Search of the National Library of Australia. "Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies Association"". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  12. ^ Australian Inter-Varsity Choral Societies (1971), Erato, Templestowe, Vic, retrieved 2013-01-22
  13. ^ "AICSA Members". Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies Association. Retrieved 2012-05-05.

Further reading[edit]

  • Peter Campbell, 1964-; Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies' Association (1999). "Laudate": the first 50 years of the Australian intervarsity choral movement. Brunswick, Vic: PC Publishing for and on behalf of the Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies' Association. ISBN 978-0-646-37548-9. OCLC 48130284. NLA 427406.
  • Australian Music Centre (9 July 2009). "Intervarsity Choral Festival celebrates with premieres". Resonate Magazine. Australian Music Centre Ltd. Retrieved 2011-10-19.
  • Campbell, Peter. Abstract. Reception, Recognition and Reputation: Australia's Intervarsity Choral Festivals in Mainstream Press Criticism since 1950. Australasian Music Research, No. 8, 2004: [73]-90. ISSN 1325-5266. Retrieved 2011-10-19.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 27°29′50.81″S 153°00′47.72″E / 27.4974472°S 153.0132556°E / -27.4974472; 153.0132556