History

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 Brevis.

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 Vespers.

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”.