The Australian Chamber choir was founded by its current director, Douglas Lawrence in 2007. In July that year, the choir undertook a 20-concert tour of Europe to great acclaim: “There are days when something of heaven seems to touch the earth. Thank you for giving us just one of those such days” (Stefen Wegener, Presenter, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnisskirche Series, Berlin, July 14, 2007) “The Australian Chamber Choir inspired the audience with the finest choral music” (Ostfriesischer Kurier, July 19, 2007). Shortly after its return to Melbourne, Clive O’Connell described the choir’s inaugural Australian performance in the Age: “choral work of the top rank, as lucidly articulated as you could desire, the bustling interweaving of eight lines coming across in this revealing acoustic with impressive purpose and intonational fidelity” (The Age, November 22, 2007).
This meteoric rise to international success was largely due to the 24 years Douglas Lawrence worked as Director of Muisc at Ormond College, University of Melbourne. In 1984, when Lawrence founded the Ormond College choir, it was the only university choir giving regular weekly performances. This choir provided a training ground for elite choral singers and young conductors, and its talented graduates went on to sing or conduct choirs such as Newman College, The Consort of Melbourne, Ensemble Gombert, Gloriana and several church choirs. Lawrence also provided a training ground for emerging Australian composers, many of whom were given the opportunity to revise their work before repeat performances, both in Australia and throughout Europe. Lawrence undertook 11 international concert tours with the Ormond College choir and established a list of European engagements unmatched by any other Australian ensemble.
The Australian Chamber Choir is open to talented singers of all backgrounds. The performance of new Australian compositions in Europe and Australia has become a hallmark of the ensemble. In its short life the choir has already given 70 performances in Germany, Poland and Denmark, bringing attention and critical acclaim to the music of Australian composers: “The modern works; Lamentations (Hodgson) and ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ (Kristof) … all portrayed a highly-effective sonic magic” (General Anzeiger, Bonn, July 11, 2009) “Thanks to the expressiveness of the singing, Brenton Broadstock’s ‘I had a dream’ became a most beautiful experience” (Berlingste Tidende, Copenhagen, July 23, 2007).
In addition to the concerts mentioned above, the ACC has produced three CDs and made numerous ABC classic FM recordings.
The choir has a special interest in the unaccompanied motets of JS Bach. ”Der Geist hilft unser Schwachheit auf” was described as “Bach vocal interpretation of high quality, with a bouncy energy and unwavering unanimity of pitch” in a review entitled “Sacred and Spine-Chilling” (Clive O’Connell, the Age, August 24, 2010). As part of a European tour in July 2011, the ACC gave a concert in St Thomaskirche, Leipzig, where Bach was director of music for 27 years. One of Bach’s six motets was performed alongside Australian works by Philip Nunn and Ronald Nagorcka. Of their performance, Thomas Organist, Ullrich Böhme said “of the many choirs visiting Leipzig, not many come up to our standard. The Australian Chamber Choir did”.