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Martha Ramsey, first director,

with Willa Taylor

Rehearsal at St. Paul's circa 1950


Elijah 70th Gala Cancert 2019

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Russ Shelley, 20

SCCS Artistic Director



    The State College Choral Society’s 71st season will be a transatlantic treat, highlighting favorite British composers in the fall and dynamic American artists in the spring. 


On Saturday, November 9, the SCCS will present “A British Banquet”: Three choral works showcase the lighter side of three giants of British music. Ralph Vaughan Williams’s cantata In Windsor Forest, taken from his opera Sir John in Love, uses texts by Shakespeare and his contemporaries to tell a tale of love, fairy trickery, and weddings. Edward Elgar’s high-spirited songs, in From the Bavarian Highlands, pay tribute to the folk tunes and dances of the German countryside. And Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb sets the poetry of Christopher Smart to music ranging from praise for “my cat Jeoffrey” to a final, bell-like “Hallelujah.” A string chamber group, led by James Lyon, accompanies the singers. Please join us for a feast of British melody.  

December 7 will see the group’s traditional Christmas concert, offered free to the community.

SCCS is honored to add a second Christmas concert, December 15th to its schedule this December, this time in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Chamber Orchestra, featuring highlights from Handel’s Messiah as well as other seasonal choral and orchestral music. Conducted by guest director Dr. Russ Shelley, the concert will take place in Penn State’s stunning new recital hall.


On May 2, the SCCS will collaborate with the State College Municipal Band to perform Celebrations, written for chorus and wind ensemble by famed American composer (and Pennsylvania native) Vincent Persichetti. SCCS Artistic Director Dr. Russ Shelley and State College Municipal Band Conductor Dr. Darrin Thornton will share the podium for this exciting, first-ever joint performance between these two groups.

Celebrations is an apt piece to round out the group’s year.


Celebrations indeed! This season, the State College Choral Society celebrates its 20th anniversary with Artistic Director Dr. Russell Shelley. Dr. Shelley, who is the Elma Stine Heckler Professor of Music at Juniata College, as well as the chair of its music department, took command of the SCCS in the 1999–2000 season. In the past two decades he has led the group through a range of music from the Baroque to the contemporary, including such masterworks as Haydn’s Creation, the Brahms Requiem, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah. During his tenure as Artistic Director, the Choral Society commissioned its first composition, Voices of the Holocaust, and performed its world premiere in 2004. The SCCS congratulates Russ on his anniversary and is eagerly looking forward to this newest season under his direction.



More than 1,750 sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses have sung with the State College Choral Society since its inception. Today, the group includes 120 singers from around Central Pennsylvania, continuing a tradition 71 years old and going strong.

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