In December 1976, the BCS gave its debut performance: Handel's Messiah. At the podium was Prof. Francis Weinrich of the University of Vermont Music Department, co-founder of the group with his colleague Prof. Frank Lidral. In the early years, organist John Henzel usually accompanied our 30-50 singers in performances. When Weinrich retired in 1983, Henzel took up the baton and began employing orchestral accompaniment for most concerts.
The organist at Henzel’s debut was Thomas Strickland, who became music director when Henzel stepped down in 1988. Strickland led the chorus for seven years, expanding the scope of its musical offerings.
UVM Prof. David Neiweem became the Burlington Choral Society's fourth music director in 1995. During his 17 years as director, the size of the chorus and the range of works grew. World premiere performances during Neiweem's tenure included Michael Hopkins’ From Revenge to Forgiveness, Neiweem’s own The Choir Immortal and Patricia Julien’s Stars.
The 2018-2019 season will mark the tenth and eleventh concerts under the baton of artistic director Richard Riley. The Burlington Choral Society is increasingly known for its innovative programming, balancing the familiar with exciting new discoveries.
The BCS has performed many of the greatest works of the choral repertory, including oratorios, masses and requiems of major classical composers, as well as less familiar works such as Mendelssohn’s St. Paul, Honegger’s King David, Britten’s St. Nicolas Cantata, and Handel's Solomon. In 2015, we presented a program of Estonian music, and in spring 2018 a program of Latvian music, both concerts with song festival favorites and classical works.
We present concerts each spring and fall. In December, we host a Messiah sing, where chorus and community celebrate the season.