The Adelaide University Choral Society is a choir of approximately 100, with usually 60 to 80 choristers on stage at a high-class choral concert, primarily students, staff and alumni from the University of Adelaide, and including some students of other South Australian tertiary institutions.
In 1952, the Adelaide University Union Choir was formed by John Winstanley to perform at official University functions. His departure to Sydney meant that the choir lapsed. Fortunately, conductor Lewis Dawe resurrected the choir to form the Adelaide University Choral Society (AUCS) in 1960. Lewis Dawe also founded the Adelaide Harmony Choir at about the same time, and conducted the Adelaide Harmony Choir for almost twenty years. His stewardship as conductor of AUCS was not nearly as long, and following his resignation from AUCS after just two years, Ralph Middenway took over as the musical director. He conducted AUCS in the middle and late 1960s. Ralph Middenway often composed and arranged works for AUCS to perform, and the highlight of this was the commission by an Australian Intervarsity Choral Festival to perform one of his works. Since that time the choir has developed a reputation as one of Adelaide’s most able and enthusiastic large choral groups. Over the last 45 years, Adelaide’s art critics have commended the Society’s performances.
AUCS is a proud and active member of the Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies’ Association (AICSA), the Australian National Choral Association (ANCA) and the Adelaide University Clubs’ Association. AUCS was also one of the founding members of AICSA and played an integral part in its formation in 1974.
AUCS has performed under conductors Hilary Weiland, Graham Abbott, Carl Crossin, Peter Leech, Russell Larkin and Timothy Sexton. However, since 1997 AUCS has been musically directed and often also conducted by Peter Kelsall. This acclaimed Adelaide organist is the longest serving musical director in the Society’s history, and has been awarded Life Membership for his extensive service to AUCS.