Sydney University Musical Society (SUMS)
Address: Box 32, Holme Building, University of Sydney, NSW 2006
The Sydney University Musical Society is one of the oldest surviving musical bodies in Australia having been founded in 1878, although it has not had an entirely continuous operation. Its first conductor was Herr Joseph Krestschmann who conducted the still fledgling society in the Australian premiere of Bach’s St Matthew Passion in the Great Hall of Sydney University on 17 April 1880. After three successful years under the conductorship of Hugo Alpen from 1889 to 1891, however, SUMS went into recess until 1908, at which time it was reformed under the name ‘Sydney University Glee Club’. Having been known as the Sydney University Musical Society and Glee Club from 1927, it took on its current title in 1933. The most formative years were under the direction of the University Organist George Faunce Allman who was conductor of SUMS for over thirty years from 1928 to 1958, during which time SUMS took part in the first Intervarsity festival, which it hosted in 1950. SUMS celebrated its centenary in 1978 with a minifest. The current conductor is Ben Macpherson - see SUMS Conductor for a full list of conductors.
Since its inception, the choir has actively participated in the musical life of the University and city, presenting three major concert programs each year and working regularly with other choral and orchestral groups. SUMS’s Australian premiere performances encompass those of the Bach Mass in B Minor and St Matthew Passion (in 1880), Handel’s Dixit Dominus, and, in 1988, Martinu’s Mikesh from the Hills. Under Ben Macpherson’s direction, the choir has continued to perform adventurous and challenging choral repertoire, including Vaughan Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem and Mass in G Minor, the Bruckner Mass in E Minor, Spem in Alium by Tallis, J.S Bach’s Magnificat and the 1998 world premiere of Nicholas Routley’s Mycenae Lookout, a work commissioned by SUMS.