Monash Academy Orchestra

Monash Academy Orchestra (MAO) is a symphony orchestra based at Monash University, Clayton. Consisting of students from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music as well as musicians from across the wider Monash campuses, the orchestra is committed to sharing the joy of musical performance with all Victorians.

The MAO has an enviable reputation as an outstanding training and mentoring orchestra, performing a range of major symphonic repertoire from Beethoven and Mozart to Shostakovich, Stravinsky and Duke Ellington. Students have the opportunity to develop their knowledge of orchestral repertoire as well as the ensemble skills necessary for professional practice.

The orchestra is committed to performing the work of Australian composers. To this end, a new work is commissioned from an Australian composer each year.


Like all live performance organisations, the Monash Academy Orchestra’s (MAO) original plans for 2020 were disrupted by the coronavirus. Our performances were unable to fit the required limitations and were cancelled. Nevertheless, MAO have explored various options to keep the music going and are now venturing into online performances. We also hope to present a live but socially distanced performance in December. So please watch this space!

Bernstein's Mass by Monash Academy Orchestra


MAO Online Orchestral Project
Date and time: To be released in late Semester 2

In Semester 2 2020 the Monash Academy Orchestra will engage in an online project working on recording and filming the following works:

  •       Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony no 3 (Finale)
  •       Richard Strauss – Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare
  •       Stuart Greenbaum – Rotation of the Earth

Students will get a chance to work closely with Benjamin Northey (Chief Conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Principal Conductor in Residence of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), Flinders String Quartet and Principal wind, brass, and percussion players of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.


The first round of auditions for the MAO season is now complete. It is possible to submit a late audition for some instruments – please contact the Orchestra Administrator to confirm your eligibility.

Process for applying:

  • All applicants complete an audition application form on the MAO website here 
  • Applicants will need to submit a single take unedited video recording (not just an audio recording)
  • Recordings to be submitted by email and/or file-sharing link sent to the orchestra administrator, Caitlin Chessell Madu 
  • All recordings must be submitted by Monday 10 August 2020, 9.00am; however we encourage you to submit your audition videos as early as possible.
  • The files must be clearly labelled with the applicant’s name and instrument
  • The audition panel will only listen to the audio, so the auditions will still be ‘blind’

If you have any queries about this process, please do not hesitate to contact Caitlin Chessell Madu.


The rehearsal schedule for 2020 is being reviewed. Once complete, a schedule will be sent to all successful MAO members as well as being updated here. 



Do I have to be a music student to audition?
No, any student from any faculty can audition for a position in the orchestra.

I was a member of MAO in 2019. Do I need to re-audition?
At the start of each year, all positions in the orchestra are declared vacant. Members must re-audition for a position every year.

Do I need an accompanist?
An accompanist is only required for those students invited to audition for the concertmaster position.

What do I need to prepare?
You will need to prepare a series of set orchestral excerpts relevant to your instrument. These are available online.

How long will the audition take?
Auditions typically last around 7–10 minutes. Two applicants are allocated to a 15-minute audition time block.

I am unable to make the listed audition date(s) during Orientation Week. Am I still able to audition?
It may be possible to organise a late audition, depending on the instrument. Please contact the orchestra administrator to find out if an alternative audition time is possible.

When do rehearsals take place?
Rehearsals are project-based and commence two to three weeks prior to a concert. As a result, rehearsals are held in the evening and on weekends (this also means that rehearsals do not clash with scheduled classes). This simulates the orchestral rehearsal process in the industry and produces a better performance outcome for all involved.

Where do rehearsals take place?
Full orchestral rehearsals usually take place in Robert Blackwood Hall on the Clayton campus. Various rooms in the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music are used for tutorials and sectionals.  Currently all rehearsals are being conducted via zoom.


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