The Brussels Choral Society (BCS) is the largest amateur symphony choir in Belgium. Truly an international ensemble, the choir consists of about 100 members, representing more than 25 different nationalities.
BCS singers come from all walks of life and share a common passion for choral music. With a a wide variety of occupations, many are professionally associated with the European institutions and international organisations.
The choir aims to perform to professional standards, and our diverse repertoire includes everything from high baroque masses to lesser-known modern works, and everything in between. The choir is serious about its craft, but also likes to have fun and create community along with music.
The BCS is an evolving, modern choir that is bolstered by years of tradition, a combination that promises to deliver high-quality choral artistry for years to come.
40 years and counting..
The choir was founded in 1979, having evolved out of an earlier group of friends known as the Suppressed Songsters. From this modest beginning, the choir matured steadily under the direction of its Musical Directors Tom Cunningham (1984-2002) and Eric Delson (since 2002), moving from seasonal concerts toward year-round programming and gaining a loyal following in the process.
The choir celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2019 at Brussels’ BOZAR with a performance of Orff’s Carmina Burana, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms. After the forced hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2021, the BCS came back in force and in numbers with successful performances of Mendelssohn’s Elias in 2022 and Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem in Brussels and Mechelen in 2023.
A rich history
The choir gives most of its concerts in Brussels. It has also performed not only throughout Belgium – in the main concert halls of Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Leuven, Mechelen, Charleroi and Liege – but also at international venues, including Bonn, Budapest, Cologne, London, Guildford Lille, Maastricht, and Rotterdam. The choir has taken part in many music festivals, notably the Brussels Summer Festival, the Festival of Flanders and the Klara Festival.
The BCS performs a wide range of works with particular emphasis on the great symphonic choral repertoire of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The past few years have seen the BCS perform a remarkable range of works, balancing the much-loved classics of the choral repertoire with more recent and unexpected discoveries (like a programme with music from the Baltic states in 2022), maintaining a freshness and dynamism for audiences and singers alike.
The choir aims to perform to professional standards with internationally recognised soloists and orchestras. The BCS has sung with leading orchestras, including the Belgian National Orchestra, the Brussels Philharmonic (formerly the Flemish Radio Orchestra), Beethoven-Orchester Bonn and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and working with notable conductors such as Dirk Kaftan, Michel Tabachnik, Ed Spanjaard and Jonathan Willcocks.
The choir has also developed productive relationships with two Brussels-based orchestras that are dedicated to advancing the careers of young players: the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of David Navarro-Turres, and the Ensemble Orchestral de Bruxelles, led by Jacques Vanherentals.
The BCS singers benefit from annual choral workshops, which offer a space to develop technique and improve as an ensemble. Always an invigorating and refreshing experience, recent workshops have been led by Kimberly Adams, Jonathan Willcocks, Mark Sirett, Ivan Yohan and Paul Smith (VOCES8).
The Brussels Choral Society is a non-profit making organisation with the legal status of a Belgian ASBL/VZW. The BCS is entirely self-funding and, apart from occasional charitable donations, all BCS revenues support the choir’s ongoing activities and expenses.
The BCS governance structure is described in its statutes. It also has a set of Internal Rules which provide more details on how the society is run.
The BCS is run by a Board elected annually by the members and consisting of a President, three Vice-Presidents, a Treasurer, a Secretary and a Representative of each of the four voice sections. The Musical Director normally attends Board meetings as an advisor. The Board takes all major decisions affecting the choir other than those reserved for the members at a general meeting.
Other choir members contribute actively to various aspects of the running of the BCS. All choir members elect the Board of Directors and participate in decisions at the Annual General Meeting, when they are given an opportunity to provide their views on any aspect of the society’s activities.