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
Occupation(s) Choir
Instruments ca. 100 voices
Years active 1990-present
Associated acts Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Youth Chorus
Members Musical Director
Andrew Downing
Assistant Musical Directors
Peter Chalk, Stephanie Teh
Youth Chorus Musical Director
Jaclyn Lanera

Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus (MGLC) 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 at St Luke's Anglican Church in South Melbourne.

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 Lesbian and Gay Pride Choir, founded 1998
  • Adelaide Gay & Lesbian Qwire, founded 2001
  • shOUT Youth Chorus (formerly 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
  • The Decibelles Female Pop Choir Inc,Melbourne, founded 2012
  • QTas - Tasmania's LGBTIQ Choir, founded 2013


MGLC’s first Musical 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 in 1992.

Following a series of short-term conductors, Tuck Wah Leong took the helm as Musical 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]

Jonathon Welch AM - of the renowned operatic trio: Tenor Australis, and former conductor of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir - served as MGLC's Musical 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. Subsequently he served as guest conductor of the Youth Chorus for the Christmas concert in 2014.

Ben Leske was appointed Musical Director of the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Youth Chorus in 2009 and led the Youth Chorus until early 2015, for its first major performance, The Sound of Youth (2010), and during a period of significant growth in its membership.

Dr Kathleen McGuire served as interim Musical Director in 2009 and then served as Musical Director 2013-2015. She also conducted MGLC at Trevor Dunn's memorial service in 1992 and at several annual AIDS memorial services at St Marks' Anglican Church in the early 1990s.

Drew Downing joined the Chorus in 2015 and is a strong supporter of community arts, Drew has gained awards and nominations from the Music Theatre Guild of Victoria for his work on stage and as a Musical Director. He has also presented works as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival and Midsumma where he earned a Greenroom nomination for 'Best Original Songs'.

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 for three major stand-alone performances and with the main chorus at numerous events, and recorded their first CD, "Count Me In", in 2008.

In November 2015, MGLYC formally changed their name to shOUT Youth Chorus. The members felt that it was important to re-brand in such a way that recognises the Youth Chorus's inclusion of people of diverse genders and sexualities: shOUT welcomes young people of all types and celebrates that diversity.



  • 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
  • Best Choir Sing, Sing For Good, 2015
  • Best Choir Sing, Sing For Good, 2016


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)
  • Count Me In (Youth Chorus) (2008)
  • Hallelujah! It's The Chorus (2013)


  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. Archived from the original on 18 September 2006. Retrieved 20 March 2007. 

External links[edit]