Founded in 1979, the Brussels Choral Society is the largest amateur symphony choir in Belgium. Truly an international ensemble, the choir consists of about 90 members, representing more than 20 different nationalities.
BCS singers come from all walks of life and share a common passion for choral music. Our singers have a wide variety of occupations, and many are professionally associated with the European institutions and international organisations.
The Brussels Choral Society aims to perform to professional standards with internationally known soloists and orchestras, 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.
The Brussels Choral Society was founded in 1979, having evolved out of an earlier group of friends known as the Suppressed Songsters, whose aim was to promote choral music in Brussels. From this modest beginning, the choir matured steadily — moving from seasonal concerts toward year-round programming and gaining a loyal following in the process.
Some 40 years later, the choir has grown in numbers and stature to become a prominent part of the Brussels concert season.
The choir celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2019 at Brussels’ BOZAR with a performance that included Carl Orff’s iconic Carmina Burana, as well as Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms.
A rich history
The choir gives most of its concerts in the European capital of Brussels. In addition, the BCS’s reputation has enabled it to perform throughout Belgium in the main concert halls of Antwerp, Ghent, Leuven, Charleroi and Liege, as well as international venues including Bonn, Budapest, Cologne, London, Lille, Maastricht, Moscow and Rotterdam. The choir has taken part in many music festivals, notably the Brussels Summer Festival, Festival of Flanders and the Klara Festival.
The BCS performs a wide range of works, from J.S. Bach to Arvo Pärt – and everything in between – with a particular emphasis on the great symphonic choral repertoire of the 18th to the 20th centuries. The Brussels Choral Society 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 (former Flemish Radio Orchestra), Beethoven Orchester Bonn and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, working with notable conductors such as Dirk Kaftan, Michel Tabachnik, Ed Spanjaard and Yuri Simonov.
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.
Soloists who have sung with the choir in recent years include Inez Cazauw, Anne-Catherine Gillet, Mathew Zadow, Teuns Michiels, Wilfried van den Brande, Hendrickje Van Kerckhove, Angélique Noldus, Julie Bailly, Werner Van Mechelen, Jan Van Elsacker and Charles Dekeyser.
The past few years have seen the BCS perform a remarkable range of works, spanning the 16th to the 21st centuries. The choir strives to balance the much-loved classics of the choral repertoire with more recent and unexpected discoveries, maintaining a freshness and dynamism for audiences and singers alike. Recent accomplishments include Schönberg’s Friede auf Erden and sell-out performances of Verdi’s Requiem in Bonn and Brussels. Looking further into the past, the choir gave the European premiere of Robert Levin’s completion of Mozart’s Mass in C minor K427 and the Belgian premiere of Karl Jenkins’s The Armed Man. In 2003, the BCS was invited to perform at the wedding of Prince Laurent of Belgium and Princess Claire.
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 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.