THE GREENVILLE CHORALE was organized in 1961 as the "Rotary Civic Chorale" by the Rotary Club of Greenville. Beginning with forty-five singers, the Chorale's mission was to provide the Upstate with a strong, symphonic community chorus. So well-received was this effort, that seven years later (1968) the "Greenville Civic Chorale Association" was chartered and the Chorale became self-sustaining. In 1987, the official title was changed to The Greenville Chorale.
Since 1961, The Greenville Chorale has grown in size to a current roster of over 200 singers from Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Pickens, Laurens, Oconee, Clemson, Greer, Simpsonville, Mauldin, Travelers Rest, and Easley. Annual auditions are held to fill the limited new positions available. The Chorale draws audiences from across the Upstate and from western North Carolina (Hendersonville, Flat Rock, Brevard, etc.).
The Chorale has been led by a succession of outstanding conductors: founding director, William Jarvis (1961–1965); Dr. Jerry Langenkamp (1965–1966); Dr. Patrick Partridge (1966–1967); Dr. Milburn Price (1967–1981); and since 1981 Dr. Bingham L. Vick, Jr., has served as Conductor and Artistic Director.
From its beginning, the Chorale has presented great choral-orchestral literature to the delight of enthusiastic audiences. In 1994, the Chorale presented the South Carolina premiere performance of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem. In the spring of 1996, the Chorale joined with the Greenville Symphony in Mahler's monumental Symphony Number 8, the Symphony of a Thousand. In 1997, the Chorale presented the first modern premiere of the landmark 1895 oratorio Moses, by Max Bruch. Dr. Vick's new English translation was used, and the concert was recorded for national CD distribution. In June 1999, the Chorale celebrated the music of Randall Thompson with a highly acclaimed performance at Piccolo Spoleto for standing-room-only audiences.
The 2000-2001 fortieth anniversary season was highlighted with outstanding concerts that featured "The Best of the Best" choral selections from a 40-year history; a performance of the entire score of Handel's Messiah; and a collaboration concert of some 500 performers with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Furman Singers, the Furman Chorale, the Furman Symphony Orchestra, Brass and Percussion Ensembles presenting the powerful Berlioz Requiem.
To celebrate its forty-fifth anniversary, 2005-2006, the Chorale commissioned a major work, Of Rivers Within, by composer, Mark Frode Kilstofte. Kilstofte, studied at the American Academy in Rome under a Frederick A. Juilliard/Walter Damrosch Rome Prize Fellowship.
The Greenville Chorale celebrated its 50th anniversary season in 2010-2011, by honoring its dedicated past and present singers, conductors, board members, and Dr. Bingham Vick, whose efforts are responsible for the continued enrichment of cultural life in our community. The Chorale commemorated this monumental season with commissioned works by Greenville’s own nationally known composers, Robert Powell and Dan Forrest; as well as Brahms’ German Requiem which was its first performance 50 years earlier; and the Missa Solemnis of Beethoven.
For the first time in 2012, the Chorale dedicated an evening to the beloved songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein, composers of the 20th Century’s greatest musicals, including Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, The Sound of Music, and Oklahoma. This crowd-pleasing program featured acclaimed Metropolitan Opera mezzo, Elizabeth Bishop.
The Greenville Chorale brings to life the world’s greatest works for symphonic choruses, and for its efforts, it consistently receives recognition as a premier choral group in the Southeast.