The BBC Symphony Chorus (= BBCSC) was founded in 1928 as the National Chorus. Its earliest concerts included the UK premiere of Gustav Mahler's Eighth Symphony and the first performances of works by Béla Bartók, Paul Hindemith, Gustav Holst and Igor Stravinsky under such conductors as Adrian Boult, Arturo Toscanini and Bruno Walter. It became the BBC Chorus in 1932, the BBC Choral Society in 1935, and finally the BBC Symphony Chorus in 1977.
Today the commitment to new music is undiminished with recent commissions from James MacMillan, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Judith Bingham and Sally Beamish, and performances of music by Schnittke, Crumb, Colin Matthews and others.
The 2004 BBC SO January Composer Weekend, John Cage Uncaged saw the Chorus taking part in performances of Cage's Musicircus in the Barbican foyers and giving the world premiere of Cage's Variations I for Stephen Montague.
Future commissions include works from Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Julian Anderson and Judith Weir. 20th-century classics are another essential strand: Tippett's The Mask of Time, John Adams's Harmonium, Sergei Rachmaninov's The Bells and Béla Bartók's Cantata Profana have been highlights of recent years.
As resident chorus at the BBC Proms, the BBC Symphony Chorus appears regularly on the first and last nights. Perhaps its most distinctive contribution, however, has been its Late Night Proms under Stephen Jackson, Chorus Director since 1989. Here the Chorus has sung major a cappella works by Johannes Brahms, Arnold Schoenberg and Strauss, and introduced music by Judith Bingham, Carl Rütti, Andrew Simpson and Henryk Gorecki.
Together with numerous studio recordings for BBC Radio 3 (most recently Benjamin Britten's A Boy was Born and Francis Poulenc's Figure humaine), this work has gained the BBC Symphony Chorus a unique profile among Britain's large amateur choirs.
The chorus has toured extensively in recent years and it continues to work with such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Bernard Haitink and Sir Simon Rattle. Under its President Sir Andrew Davis, the chorus celebrated the Queen's Golden Jubilee with the Prom at the Palace in 2002.