Schuylkill Choral Society
Holiday Movie Marathon
Saturday, December 2, 2023 - 7:00 PM
Trinity Episcopal Church, Pottsville
Sunday, December 3, 2023 - 3:00 PM
Grace EC Church, Schuylkill Haven
Sunday, March 10, 2024 - 3:00 PM
St. Patrick RC Church, Pottsville
Saturday, May 18, 2024 - 7:00 PM
Schuylkill Haven Area High School
The Schuylkill Choral Society, formerly the Schuylkill County Community Chorus, was formed in 1973 by its founder and first conductor James Rickley with the help of the group's first accompanist Miriam Small. The original group consisted of thirty members, mostly from local church choirs and students of Mr. Rickley' s. The original rehearsals were held at the Catholic War Vets in Pottsville, with the group's first public performance being held for the residents of Rest Haven in Schuylkill Haven. Francis Portland assumed the conductor's stand during the late 1970s and introduced the chorus to its first major work, Handel's Messiah. Catherine Zimmerman followed as conductor during the early 1980s. Under her leadership, the group continued to expand its repertoire, including a performance of the Brahms's Requiem. During the mid-1980s Dr. Mark P. Thomas accepted the position of conductor and music director and continues in that role today.
In the late 1980s, the choir expanded its concert season and continued to expand its repertoire in both classical and contemporary music. Orchestral accompaniment was added for major performances. The group began to travel throughout central and eastern Pennsylvania and in 1991 embarked on its first European tour receiving high praise in both the German and Austrian press. The chorus then toured thoughout eastern Canada in both 1995 and 1998. The 1990s also brought much attention to the chorus, as it was featured on many television shows as well as frequent broadcasts on the radio. During the 1994-1995 season, The Fiftieth Anniversary Commemorative World War II Concert brought national attention. The chorus was recognized by then President William Clinton for its recognition of veterans and its contributions to its community. Parts of this program were also used in Washington D.C. to celebrate the official national anniversary of the end of WWII.
The beginning of the new millennium saw the chorus release two commercial albums. The group continued to expand its efforts with other local organizations including frequent performances with the Schuylkill Symphony Orchestra and the Anthracite Philharmonic. In 2002 the chorus embarked on its second overseas tour to the British Isles and in 2004 toured in the United States. In 2005 the choir performed with the New York Pops at the Lakeside Ballroom commemorating Jimmy Dorsey's 100th birthday. In 2006 the choir traveled to Central Europe to take part in “The Footsteps of Mozart Tour" performing works of Mozart in Prague, the Czech Republic; and at St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom) in Vienna, Austria. In 2012 the chorus performed in Russia, Finland, and Estonia with members of the St. Petersburg Orchestra and Moscow Opera Company, and in 2016 performed at St. Peter's in the Vatican City and at Notre Dame in Paris. The chorus also had the honor in 2016 of representing the United States in an International D-Day memorial service held at Normandy Beach in France. In 2023 members of the chorus embarked on a second Celtic tour, with performances in Killarney, Belfast, and Edinburgh. The group is also frequently seen performing the National Anthem for many professional sporting events, including the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers. The year 2023 also marked the 50th Anniversary season of the choral society bringing much recognition from state and local officials.
Today the Schuylkill Choral Society is an 80-voice auditioned volunteer choir that continues its original credo of promoting cultural growth in its community, while reaching beyond its borders to engage people throughout Pennsylvania and beyond