Founded in 1977 by organist Florence Ruley of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, a group of caring
singers were organized to commemorate the installation of a new bishop. They liked the
experience so much they continued on with the idea of singing two to three concerts a year.
Initial programs included Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Brahms Requiem, and Kodaly’s Missa
In 1983 the name was changed to Choral Arts Society. In 1984, we became an affiliate of
the Academy of the Arts for a period of approximately three years. As public appreciation
and awareness of the Choral Arts Society was growing within the community, it was time to
create a formal Board to help guide and support this cherished musical art form. This
growing success and community presence was marked by a new and thoughtful broadening
of the repertoire. Now featuring guest soloists, we presented programs such as Vaughn
Williams’ Sea Symphony, Schubert’s Mass in A Flat, Bach’s Magnificat and Mozart’s Solemn
In 1986, Dr. Douglas Smith was named Artistic Director, which he remained for almost
twenty five years. He is remembered for his talent, guidance, commitment and enthusiastic
love of the history of music and its composers. One of the best highlights and most
memorable programs presented during his tenure was Carl Orff’s powerful and dramatic
cantata, Carmina Burana. Along with Salisbury Choral Society, Salisbury Symphony’s sixty
member orchestra, and over one hundred voices including various national guest soloists,
this was a performance to remember forever! For many seasons during this time, the
Chesapeake Chorale, an ECAS chamber ensemble, had the privilege of touring and
performing in many major European countries, including Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria,
France, England and Wales.
As the Archives tell the story, there has been great joy and challenge in presenting beautiful
music through the years. We have sung a wide variety of glorious music, represented by
selections from many different eras, styles and composers. Among these works we also
include Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat, J.S. Bach, John Rutter and Francis Poulenc’s Gloria,
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem, and “The Cantors of Leipzig”, one of whom was J. S. Bach.
In October of 1991, our concert “A Festival of American Music” and “A Tribute to Bernstein
and Copland” was chosen to be part of the Talbot Performing Arts Society series. We have
also sung major works of the negro spiritual tradition, featuring works by Billing, Foster,
Berlin, and culminating with the 2012 Spring concert, “Feel the Spirit: The Music of Rutter,
Shearing and Carmichael”.