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 (now in Los Angeles), to lead them on an adventure in music and voice. The PCS, conducted since 2011 by Zachary Ullery, 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 video below is celebration of our 20 years, bringing together views from a variety of people from the PCS community. Special thanks to Sarah Towle, former PCS singer, for driving the creation of this video.