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. In May 2009 the Choir celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a performance of the Messiah which also coincided with the Handel 250th Anniversary celebrations. Fast forward to 2019 and we celebrated our 30th anniversary with a performance of Mozart's Requiem in Paisley Abbey.

Over the years the Choir has grown to its present strength of approximately 70 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 around five concerts each year; recent performances have been held in Alloway, Bearsden, Kirkintilloch and East Kilbride as well as within Paisley. Our annual Christmas concert, traditionally held in Paisley Town Hall, is especially popular. Many of our concerts are in aid of charity. Over the 30 years since the choir was founded we have raised almost £100,000 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, and church organ and refurbishment funds.

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 have an extensive and expanding repertoire including carols, folk songs, spirituals, motets, madrigals, Scottish songs and choruses from opera, operetta and musicals. Each May we perform a major work or works, engaging some of the best soloists in the country - both established singers and recent graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland - often accompanied by a professional orchestra. Where possible, we also try 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.


Musical Director

Sarah graduated with BMus (Hons.) from the Dublin Institute of Technology Conservatory of Music & Drama in Performance and Vocal Pedagogy. Surrounded by music from an early age, her choral experience began at nine with Dr. Mark Keane and the Galway Choral Association. During her time at Scoil Íde, Sisters Breda Coyne and Breege Ruane encouraged her participation in choirs, school shows and several events.

In 2012, she was invited to join the internationally acclaimed chamber choir New Dublin Voices under the direction of Bernie Sherlock. During her studies in Dublin, she founded and directed two community choirs. In September 2014, Sarah relocated to Hungary in order to attend the Kodály Institute, Kecskemét. There, she received a diploma in Advanced Choral Conducting.

The following year, she auditioned and gained a place in Tenso Europe Chamber Choir. She completed her MA (Kodály Music Pedagogy) and graduated from the Liszt Academy, Budapest with distinction in 2016.

As soloist, Sarah’s repertoire includes works such as Kodaly's Missa Brevis, Pergolesi’s Magnificat and Stabat Mater, Handel’s Messiah and Fauré’s Requiem. Soloist with Culwick Choral Society, she performed Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Mendelssohn’s Walpurgisnacht in the Carmelite Church, Whitefriar Street, Dublin. A recipient of the esteemed Bacon-Erdei Scholarship, Sarah was invited to conduct educational research in Budapest in 2016. Currently, she teaches at Williamwood High School (Secondary Music), is a Deputy Lecturer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Choral & Musicianship) and Musical Director of Hutcheson’s Choral Society.



Tim joined Paisley Philharmonic Choir as accompanist in August 2016 following the departure of Bill Ritchie, previous accompanist of 18 years, on health grounds.

Tim freelances, performs and accompanies several choirs across the Central Belt. He is currently the organist at St Andrew's, Clermiston, Edinburgh, and has previously held organist posts in Paisley (Paisley Abbey) and Aberdeen (High Church, Hilton). He has performed as soloist and accompanist in cathedrals, churches and concert halls throughout the UK, as well as venues in mainland Europe and the USA.

Before moving to Scotland he was the organ scholar at Jesus College, Cambridge where he also studied for an undergraduate degree in Geography. Projects with the choirs at Jesus College included CD recordings and radio broadcasts for the BBC.

Outside music, Tim enjoys walking, travel writing and the great outdoors, so on a sunny day you're more likely to bump into him at the top of a hill than in the city!


Founding Director

Ian Anderson founded Paisley Philharmonic Choir in 1988. He retired in May 2019 at the end of the choir's 30th anniversary season, which culminated in a concert including Mozart's "Requiem" held at Paisley Abbey.


The choir wishes to express its gratitude for Ian's direction, dedication and good humour over these three decades.