Choir History

Elma Heckler

In early 1973, seven singers met in the choral music room at Central Bucks West High School in response to a newspaper ad about starting a community chorus. The group was led by the late David Johns, and within weeks had grown to forty voices with the official identity - Bucks County Choral Society. The first concert was given on June 3, 1973; that December the Choral Society performed its first major choral work, Handel's Messiah, at Lenape Junior High School in Doylestown.

In its early years, the newly organized BCCS grew musically and organizationally under the leadership of interim directors Bill Moore and Ruth Sauter. The choir became incorporated, and began the search for a permanent music director. In the fall of 1977, Elma Heckler of Hatfield was named director of the group, giving the Choral Society the stability of artistic leadership it had been seeking.

Elma led BCCS for an inspired 23 years, establishing it as the premier choral ensemble in the area. Elma greatly expanded the choir's repertoire to include many of the major works in the choral/orchestral literature. She revolutionized the choir's approach to music fundamentals, and instituted a demanding audition process for membership in the choir. Elma and a small army of singing and non-singing volunteers helped the choir grow administratively as well, forming of a board of directors, establishing tax-exempt status, and recruiting individual and business patrons as well as government and foundation grants. She retired after the 1999-2000 season and was succeeded by current Artistic Director, Thomas Lloyd. Elma was posthumously awarded the Elaine Brown Award for Choral Excellence for 2001 by the Pennsylvania chapter of the ACDA.

Thomas Lloyd

Throughout the years, the Bucks County Choral Society has performed with a wide range of musical organizations including both professional and volunteer orchestras and many other local choirs. BCCS continues to build on its proud heritage and under Tom's direction, is reaching new levels of musical excellence and administrative maturity. The choir has developed a regular season program schedule which includes a fall opening concert, the annual Festival of Christmas Music, followed by an annual concert for chorus and orchestra, Happy Kids and a performance of masterworks for

chorus and organ at the world famous Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Recent musical highlights have included outstanding performances of Haydn's Creation (with Riverside Symphonia and Grammy award winning Jacqueline Horner), Poulenc's Gloria, Finzi's In Terra Pax, and Faure's Requiem. As the choir continues to grow, it has become like a family to those involved, a community in which singers and listeners alike reap joy and satisfaction in learning and sharing wonderful music. BCCS looks to future with strong dedication to its mission - to bring memorable performances of outstanding choral music to the people of Bucks County, thereby celebrating and strengthening the social fabric of the wider community.

For audio and video clips of Choral Society performances, click here.

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