The Australia Ensemble, resident at The University of New South Wales, was founded in 1980 following a proposal put to the University by Roger Covell and Murray Khouri. The group has long been widely recognised as this country's finest chamber music ensemble. Consisting of seven of Australia's leading instrumentalists, the Ensemble is able to engage other outstanding musicians to ensemble it to present some highly unusual and varied groupings of performers as well as the standard chamber music repertoire. The core activities of the Australia Ensemble are the annual subscription season and free concert and workshop series at UNSW, although it also frequently appears elsewhere for music societies and other organisations.
The Australia Ensemble lives up to its name by touring throughout Australia and overseas. It has appeared in every state of Australia for Musica Viva and other entrepreneurs and frequently appears in national music and chamber music festivals. The Ensemble has regularly toured internationally since 1982 and has performed in the USA, the UK, the Soviet Union, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, China, India, South America, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.
In addition to major support from The University of New South Wales, the Australia Ensemble gratefully acknowledges the generous financial assistance of the Music Board of the Australia Council, the New South Wales Ministry for the Arts, The University of New South Wales U Committee and generous donations from individual subscribers and supporters.
The Australia Ensemble is managed by UNSW's Music Performance Unit.
Professor Roger Covell completed his doctoral studies in early baroque opera. He has edited and arranged the earliest Australian musical play, Edward Geoghegan’s The Currency Lass (Sydney, Currency, 1976). He is the Founding head of the School of Music and Music Education, and his activities include choral and operatic conducting, composing and arranging, musical direction of University of New South Wales Opera, co-founding the Australia Ensemble resident at UNSW and the publication of ongoing research in opera, baroque music and Australian music. Former national president of both the Musicological Society of Australia and the Australian Society for Music Education, he also wrote as chief music critic of The Sydney Morning Herald, an activity that earned him the Geraldine Pascal Prize. In 2006, Roger was the recipient of the award for Long-Term Contribution to the Advancement of Australian Music at the Classical Music Awards.