About the Paris Choral Society
Sharing our passion for classical and contemporary music
Paris Choral Society
For more than a quarter-century, the Paris Choral Society has delighted international audiences with outstanding performances of choral masterworks acclaimed in Paris and beyond.
Lifted by one hundred voices accompanied by professional soloists and orchestras, Paris Choral Society programs draw on celebrated requiems and masses by Mozart, Handel, Beethoven, Verdi, Haydn, Brahms, Bach, Faure and Mendelssohn, to name a few, and the finest in modern choral works by Carl Orff, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Maurice Durufle, with occasional forays into George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, American hymns and spirituals, operatic favorites, and the recent works of women composers.
The chorale is unique in Paris, too, for its membership, which the New York Times once described as “unpaid but professional-level.” Its singers are French- and English-speaking, of all ages and backgrounds, and competition at auditions can be lively. All are committed to a spirit of musical excellence.
The Paris Choral Society is led by Zachary Ullery, the distinguished young Canon for Music at the American Cathedral in Paris. The 1886 neo-Gothic church on avenue George V has been home to PCS since its founding, by volunteers, in 1994 under the leadership and baton of the former Canon for Music, Edward Tipton. Rehearsals are held there weekly, as are most of the concerts – although PCS has performed at churches inSaint-Germain-des-Prés, Notre- Dame d’Auteuil, Saint-Eustache, in Les Halles area (St. Eustache) and Ile Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile as well.
In addition to three major programmes every year, PCS is best known in Paris for its Messiah sing-along during Advent. Every Cathedral pew is full as the audience itself performs selections from Handel’s best-known work in alternation with professional soloists. This has been a popular item on the Paris seasonal calendar for more than a generation. To find out more about our forthcoming performances, do check out our concerts page.
In 2019, the PCS performed its first choral premiere, the Stabat Mater, whose American composer, Richard Burchard, worked closely with the chorale, maestro Ullery, and accompanist Andrew Dewar in perfecting the work for its first world performances. You can learn more about the performance in this video.
In April 2022, the Paris Choral Society made a unique recording of Eric Whitacre’s “Sainte-Chapelle” in the famous Parisian chapel itself. You can watch the recording here:
Paris Choral Society members also participate in music festivals and special concerts, including the annual Paris Fête de la Musique, at a Nuit Blanche event, a concert with a visiting Norwegian orchestra and choir celebrating Norway’s centennial, an international choral competition in Prague, a concert on Radio France, and Christmas “flash mobs” at Paris department stores.
Since its founding, the Paris Choral Society has been led by volunteers. A working board of directors, in conjunction with the Musical Director, is responsible for the management of PCS, and all members perform a range of duties in preparation for four concerts a year. Paris Choral Society activities are made possible through membership fees and ticket sales, both of them modestly priced, and through generous donations from inside and outside PCS.
Zachary Ullery has been the Music Director and Conductor of the Paris Choral Society since 2011. During his tenure the Choral Society has performed a full range of challenging choral/orchestral masterworks from all style periods and explored a variety of works from living composers. Zach always seeks to bring out the very best from each singer and foster a strong sense of a singing community.
Canon Ullery has served on the music staff at the American Cathedral in Paris since 2008. Since 2011 he manages the Cathedral’s extensive music program, which includes conducting the Cathedral Choir, the Choirs for Youth and Children, and the music education programs. He also serves as the Artistic Director of the Les Arts George V, the American Cathedral’s arts organization which hosts over one hundred concerts a year and nurtures the creative impulse of the cathedral community.
Zach graduated summa cum laude from the University of Kentucky in 2004. In 2008 he receive dual Masters Degrees from the University of Kentucky in Choral Conducting and Music Education. In addition, he has completed advanced studies in Orff-Schulwerk, a developmental approach to music education for children. During his graduate studies at the University of Kentucky, he studied choral conducting with Dr. Jefferson Johnson and Dr. Lori Hetzel and organ with Dr. Schuyler Robinson. He furthered his choral conducting study at the Choral Institute at Oxford (United Kingdom) where he studied with James Jordan and James Whitbourn.
During his conducting career he has conducted many major works from the choral/ orchestral repertoire including the Bach St. John Passion and Mass in B Minor, Beethoven Missa Solemnis, Mozart Mass in C Minor and Requiem, Duruflé Requiem, Fauré Requiem, Brahms Requiem, Haydn Creation, Handel Messiah, Lauridsen Lux aeterna, Martin Mass for Double Choir, Orff Carmina Burana, Poulenc Gloria and Stabat Mater, Rachmaninoff Vespers, and the masses of Haydn, Schubert, Vierne, and Langlais. In 2012, Zach conducted the world premiere of Pulitizer Prize-winning composer Yehudi Wyner’s The Lord is close to the heartbroken as part of the Soli Deo Gloria’s Psalms Project. In 2017, he conducted several world premieres of compositions by Richard Burchard and the European premiere of Burchard’s Seven Last Words of Christ. In addition to his conducting career, Zach is an accomplished organist and has accompanied choirs and played solo recitals in numerous cathedrals throughout the United States, the Bahamas, and Europe.
Zach is a member of the Association of Anglican Musicians, American Choral Directors’ Association, the American Guild of Organists, and serves on the board of the Royal School of Church Music (France).
George Nicholls, originally from Warwickshire in England, is the Organ Scholar at The American Cathedral in Paris. He began his musical studies with Paul Carr, and in 2015 continued at the Royal Birmingham Junior Conservatoire. From 2017 to 2019 he was the Organ Scholar at St Alban the Martyr, Birmingham, where he found a passion for improvisation – this now plays an important part in his musical practices. Before moving to France, George studied at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he was also the Organ scholar. At Royal Holloway, in addition to accompanying the choir in their weekly services and concerts, George’s playing was broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Television and various commercial CD recordings.
Andrew Dewar’s musical career started at an early age; he began playing the Organ at his local church in Yeovil (Somerset) at the age of nine. With a scholarship to Wells Cathedral School in 1996 he studied the Organ with Rupert Gough, David Sanger, David Briggs (improvisation) and Harpsichord with Dr David Ponsford. From 1999-2000 he was Organ Scholar at Wells Cathedral before moving to Germany where he studied at the Musikhochschule, Stuttgart, with Prof Dr Ludger Lohmann. Andrew is currently Organist at the American Cathedral in Paris.
Andrew has won prizes in the following organ competitions:
- Pipeworks International Organ Competion, Dublin 2014
- St Albans International Organ Competition 2005 (Including Audience Prize)
- Bach prize, Wiesbaden 2005
- Mendelssohn Competition, Berlin 2003
- International Organ Competition, Landau an der Isar 2002 (Plus the Arthur Piechler Interpretation Prize)
- Plymouth National Young Organists’ Competition 2001
- Canadian International Organ Competition, Montreal 2014 (Plus the Bach Prize)
- Canadian International Organ Competition, Montreal 2008 (Plus the Olivier Messiaen Prize)
- International Bach/Liszt Competion, Erfurt 2008 (Plus the Julius Reubke Interpretation Prize)
- International E. F. Walcker Competition, Schramberg 2004
- Organ ART Museum, Rhein-Nahe 2003
- St Albans International Organ Competition 2003
Andrew performs solo recitals throughout Europe, Russia and North America. 2015 engagements include the Cirencester Organ Festival (UK), Jeunesse Concert Series Vienna, Thüringer Bach Wochen (Germany), and the Festival Bach de Montréal.
Live recordings from recent concerts can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/user/ardinsel33.
He served as a jury member at the 2015 International BACH | LISZT Organ Competition in Weimar/Erfurt (Germany).