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 in St. Germain, Auteuil, Les Halles area (St. Eustache) and Ile St. Louis as well.
In addition to three major concerts 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 a generation.
In 2019, the PCS will perform its first choral premiere, the Stabat Mater, whose American composer, Richard Burchard, has been working closely with the chorale, maestro Ullery, and accompanist Andrew Dewar in perfecting the work for its first world performances.
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 made his choral conducting debut at the age of 15 when he was appointed Organist and Choirmaster at the Carlisle (Kentucky) Presbyterian Church. Since then his passion for the choral arts has deepened and flourished.
Zach is a native of Maysville, Kentucky, and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Kentucky in 2004 with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education. During his under- graduate studies, Zach studied violin, piano, organ, and voice. In 2008 he received 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. From 2004 to 2006, Zach was Director of Choral Activities at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester, KY, while also serving as Assistant Organist and Choirmaster at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Lexington, KY, from 2001 to 2008. During his graduate studies at the University of Kentucky, Zach studied choral conducting with Dr. Jefferson Johnson and Dr. Lori Hetzel. Zach served as Conductor of the University of Kentucky Choristers, the Assistant Conductor of the University Chorale and as the Assistant Conductor and Accompanist for the renowned Men’s Chorus.
In 2011, Zach was appointed full-time Director of Music at the American Cathedral in Paris. In this capacity, Zach manages the Cathedral’s extensive music program, which includes the Cathedral Choir, the Choirs for Youth and Children, and music education programs. In addition, Zach is the Artistic Director of 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 also serves as the Musical Director for the annual conventions of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.
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).