In September 1988 Ian Anderson, then Principal Teacher of Music at Stanely Green High School in Paisley, was asked to form a choir to give a performance of Handel's Messiah as part of Greenlaw Church's centenary. Following the success of that venture, it was decided to constitute the Paisley Philharmonic Choir on a permanent basis in January 1989. Consequently, in May 2009 the Choir celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a performance of the Messiah which also coincided with the Handel 250th Anniversary celebrations.
Since then the Choir has grown to its present strength of approximately 90 members, covering a wide age range and drawing people mainly from the Renfrewshire area but also much further afield from Hamilton in the East to Gourock in the West and from Bearsden in the North to Ayr in the South. The Choir presents three concerts each year in Paisley Town Hall in December, March and May.
In addition the Choir has presented many concerts in aid of charity. Over the 24 years since the choir was founded we have raised approximately £60,000 for a variety on charities including Cystic Fibrosis, the Yorkhill Scanner Appeal, Riding for the Disabled, Cancer Research, the British Diabetic Association, Multiple Sclerosis, Christian Aid, the Roy Castle Lung Foundation, St Vincent's Hospice Howwood, Ekwendeni Primary School in Malawi, church organ and refurbishment funds and others are already booked as far ahead as 2014.
The Choir also undertakes several one-off projects. In autumn 2004, for example, we completed the recording of a Christmas CD in association with the Scottish Co-Op Band. In December 2009 the choir was invited to share a concert in Kelvingrove Art Gallery promoted by Smooth Radio. The Choir has also regularly sung in St Giles Cathedral as part of the Sunday at Six series and featured regularly in the Paisley Choral Festival.
The Choir's ever expanding repertoire is extensive and includes carols, folk songs, spirituals, motets, madrigals, Scottish songs and choruses from opera, operetta and musicals. Each May we perform a concert of some of the finest oratorios in the choral repertoire engaging some of the best soloists in the country both established singers and recent graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland accompanied by a professional orchestra. We also try where possible to engage young people still at school or university to give them an opportunity to perform.
Over the years the Choir has established a reputation as one of the finest and most versatile choirs in the West of Scotland – a reputation of which we are justly proud.
We welcome a new accompanist, Tim Lambourn, assistant organist at Paisley Abbey. Sadly we say farewell to Bill Ritchie, our accompanist for 18 years, on health grounds. Bill has been a wonderful accompanist both on organ and piano and has performed many solos and accompanied many soloists in our concerts. He was enormously popular with members both for his sense of humour and his great musical skill which were appreciated and enjoyed by all our audiences.