Founded in 1977 by organist Florence Ruley of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, a group of caring singers were organized to commemorate the installation of a new bishop. They liked the experience so much they continued on singing two to three concerts a year.
In 1983 the name was changed to Choral Arts Society and in 1984, we became an affiliate of the Academy of the Arts for three years. As public appreciation and awareness of the Choral Arts Society was growing within the community, the society created a formal Board of Directors to guide and support our emerging professional singing organization. In addition, our increased success and community presence was marked by a major and permanent expansion of the repertoire. Featuring guest soloists and professional orchestral musicians, Easton Choral Arts graduated into presenting important choral music programs such as Vaughn Williams’ Sea Symphony, Schubert’s Mass in A Flat, Bach’s Magnificat and Mozart’s Solemn Vespers.
In 1986, Dr. Douglas Smith was named Artistic Director, which he remained for almost twenty-five years. He is remembered for his talent, guidance, commitment and enthusiastic love of the history of music and its composers. One of the significant highlights and memorable programs presented during his tenure was Carl Orff’s powerful and dramatic cantata, Carmina Burana. ECAS was joined with the Salisbury Choral Society, the Salisbury Symphony’s orchestra, prominent guest soloists, and more than one hundred voices. Viewers and performers enjoyed an outstanding concert to remember forever! The Chesapeake Chorale, an ECAS chamber ensemble, had the privilege of touring and performing in many major European countries, including Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, France, England and Wales.
Wes Lockfaw was appointed Artistic Director in December 2010 becoming the fifth director of the chorus. Under his tutelage, the chorus expanded its concert repertoire and added a third concert to usher in the Christmas season. In 2016, the choir established its permanent home at Christ Church in downtown Easton. In the summer of 2022, Wes relocated to North Carolina and the Board of Directors appointed Alexis Ward as new Artistic Director. Alexis brings more than 15 years experience in community, church, and professional choirs.
We are grateful for the support of the Talbot County Arts Council, the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, the Maryland State Arts Council, and to our Membership, all of whom contribute to the success and financial stability of the group. We appreciate the advertisers who make our program booklets possible. Many thanks to Christ Episcopal Church and The Reverend Dr. Ortt for our concerts and rehearsal space.
As the Archives tell the story, there has been great joy and challenge in presenting beautiful music through the years. We have sung a wide variety of glorious music, represented by selections from many different eras, styles and composers.