The Paris Choral Society was created in 1994 when a group of avid non-professional singers in Paris persuaded the gifted choirmaster and former music director of the American Cathedral in Paris, Edward J. Tipton, to lead them on an adventure in music and voice. The PCS is now nearly one hundred strong, its concerts a fixture on the Paris cultural scene, its acclaim and popularity multiplying by the season. The mission of this volunteer chorale is to present the finest in choral music at affordable prices. The PCS's main focus has been on the masses and requiems of the great composers, sung with full orchestra.
The PCS audiences have enjoyed master works such as the requiems of Mozart, Faure, Verdi and Brahms and masses by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Dvorak, Puccini and Rossini. Other PCS offerings have included Orff's Carmina Burana, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, Mendelssohn's Elijah, Britten's Ceremony of Carols, and for the centenary of the composer's birth, a special concert of the complete choral works of Maurice Duruflé. Not restricting itself to a classical repertoire, the PCS has also branched out in other directions, singing an eclectic mix including Brahms' waltzes, medleys of Irving Berlin and George Gershwin and American hymns and spirituals.
The PCS is best-known in Paris for its pre-Christmas Sing-Along of Handel's Messiah at the American Cathedral on avenue George V, the concert home of the PCS. Enthusiastic participants stand in line every year to join the members of the PCS and professional soloists, in singing Handel's majestic work - concluding with a rousing and exuberant rendition of the Hallelujah! Chorus- The Messiah Sing-Along and three major choral works sung in the autumn, winter and spring, comprise the basic PCS concert season.
The PCS has also had the honor of participating in many outside choral events: performances at France's annual Fête de la Musique, a charity concert to raise funds for Retina France, an international choral competition in Prague, and an appearance on Radio France, to name a few.
The New York Times, noting the PCS's "unpaid but professional-level" qualities, underscored the bilingual and bicultural spirit of the PCS. Over a dozen different nationalities are represented in the PCS membership, with the largest percentages being American and French.
Rehearsals are conducted in English, the best means of communication in light of the varied backgrounds of the members. Coming from differing backgrounds, professions and walks of life, the PCS membership is united by its commitment to the common goal of musical excellence. Its members are young and old; natives, longtime expats and those passing through Paris for a few years; people who have been singing all their lives and others relatively new to it. "Le Monde de la Musique" praised Mr. Tipton's gift for "drawing the best from his singers without ever losing his smile" and points out that being a PCS member not only means working hard at rehearsals, but also "doing everything, from setting up and taking down the risers to the administration."
A working Board of Directors of twelve volunteer members, in conjunction with the conductor, is responsible for the management of PCS.