History of HCS

The 1980’s. Founded by Dr. Betty Devine in 1987 under the original name of The Houston Choral Union, the Houston Choral Society began as a 30-member hybrid community college choir and community choir.  Dr. Devine was at that time a faculty member at Houston Community College System’s Northwest College, and this new choir offered college students and members of the Houston community an excellent opportunity to expand their vocal experience.    They performed their initial concerts at Westchester Campus’s auditorium before growing to 90 singers and moving to a concert venue at Grace Presbyterian Church. The Houston Choral Society eventually became the crown jewel of the Houston Community College System’s choral program, performing at graduation ceremonies and representing the college at various venues, including “Select ‘89″ honoring the Texas Legislature and “Hats Off to Bob Lanier” at River Oaks Country Club, honoring Houston’s then mayor.

The 1990’s. By 1990 the group had officially become The Houston Choral Society and continued to grow in numbers.  In September of 1990 the Friends of The Houston Choral Society, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was chartered to seek financial support outside the college system and support The Houston Choral Society’s performances. During the 1990’s, the quality and make-up of the singers became more refined, and The Houston Choral Society began to move from using amateur musicians to professional musicians to accompany its concerts. The organization’s community outreach expanded to include choral singing every Christmas for the patients at M.D. Anderson Hospital and the children at Shriners’ Hospitals for Children-Houston. The HCS chorus performed for the opening of the Republican National Convention in Houston, woke up the astronauts one morning on one of their flights with “Awake the Harp,” from Haydn’s The Creation, and was joined by the West Point Military Academy’s Glee Club in a presentation of Randall Thompson’s Testament of Freedom, a benefit performance for the Houston Food Bank at Wortham Theater Center.

In 1996, The Houston Choral Society moved its concert venue and rehearsals to the Foundry United Methodist Church in northwest Houston because of the church’s superior acoustics, its tracker organ, and ample rehearsal space. It continues to have its rehearsal and concert base there today, although it has sung in other venues, such as the Wortham Theater Center and Moore’s Opera House at the University of Houston.  In 1999, The Houston Choral Society left the Houston Community College System and established itself as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

The 2000’s. During the 2000’s The Houston Choral Society enjoyed a growing patron base, an increasing audience, some generous grants and corporate donations, and hired a full time business manager. The singers of the HCS chorus are auditioned, multi-cultural, and multi-generational, coming from various backgrounds and professions, many with extensive choral experience, but all having a love for ensemble singing.   The Houston Choral Society’s mission statement was being fulfilled: to be a professional-quality civic chorus dedicated to performing great choral music to enrich the soul and advance the choral arts to Houston audiences. The HCS chorus has increased in vocal skill and reading ability over the years to the point that The Houston Choral Society is considered to be a semi-professional community chorus today, presenting a wide repertoire of choral music to growing and appreciative audiences.

The Houston Choral Society is a member of Chorus America, an association of professional and volunteer vocal ensembles, and is funded in part by grants from Harris County and the Texas Commission on the Arts through the Houston Arts Alliance.

World Premiere of Commissioned Piece. In 2008, thanks to a generous grant from Conoco Phillips, the Houston Choral Society performed the world premiere of a piece it had commissioned Dr. Adolphus Hailstork to compose. Set Me On A Rock is a dramatic choral presentation of the great flood in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and Houston’s response to its victims.

International Tours. In 2001, The Houston Choral Society made its first international concert tour, performing in cathedrals in England and Scotland. This was followed by a second tour to Italy in 2004, in which the HCS chorus sang in an array of historical venues, as well as responding to an invitation by the Vatican to sing a mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In 2007, a third international concert tour was made for performances in Prague, Vienna and Budapest. In 2011, The Houston Choral Society made its fourth international concert tour of Dublin and southern Ireland.  Our most recent trip was our 2015 Tour of Germany in June, 2015.

Repertoire. See a list of our extensive repertoire here.