The Philhamonischer Chor Köln (= PCK) was founded in 1947 by Philipp Röhl as free and independent concert choir. Philipp Röhl was very busy in the choir life of Köln as almost nobody else other did. After his activity as church musician, he led as a first director of choir Kölner Opernchor, rebuilt after end of World War II the Gürzenich-Chor considerably and led long years Kölner Hochschulchor and the concert ensemble class of the Staatlichen Hochschule für Musik Köln.
In 1948 Philipp Röhl appeared with the PCK for the first time in public. Soon the choir counted about 200 active singers. With this quantity of singers Philipp Röhl gave about 300 choir concerts, mostly in Köln's Gürzenich. He made guest performances with the choir in numerous other German cities, in addition, in other European countries. Many of the concerts were broadcasted. When Philipp Röhl handed over the PCK to his successor Horst Meinardus, the choir did not only enjoy national acknowledgement: it was highly esteemed as one of the best European choirs.
Since 1990 Horst Meinardus - which was active already since 1976 as a second conductor of the choir and particularly made himself attentive with a new rehearsing of the important George Frideric Handel oratorios - the repertoire, which has been developed by Philipp Röhl, extended considerably. Purposefully he places his work in the tradition of a big concert choir. To it he applies to retain and develop further the independent profile of the PCK. Rarely performed works, from composers as Arthur Honegger, Szymanowski, Suter, Ottorino Respighi, Marcel Dupré, Martin, Rudolf Petzold and Zoltán Kodály received a place in the repertoire of the choir. Due to the initiative Philipp Röhl, R. Petzold and Z. Kodály had already a particularly close relationship with the PCK. Petzold composed choral works especially for the choir and Z. Kodály's choral compositions - his Missa Brevis, Psalmus Hungaricus and Te Deum - began here their European triumphant advance. Like many other important personalities, R. Petzold and Z. Kodály belonged to the honour members of the PCK.
The high musical requirements are placed for the big choir as a unit, with about 150 singers today, as well as for each individual choir member. The musical concept is based on an intensive all-season rehearsal work with two weekly rehearsals and careful correct formation for each chorister. Since 1997 Horst Meinardus is supported thereby by his musical female assistant Sabine Falter.
Concert tours and co-operation with important international music festivals led the PCK to numerous cities of Europe and the Near East, e.g. in the last years to Dublin, Abu Dhabi and Cairo. A tour to Israel with six performances of the Mass in B minor (BWV 232) by J.S. Bach received special attention. Numerous concerts of the PCK were broadcasted by radio stations all over the world. TV concert programs of the PCK also received great attention.
In the course of its history the PCK has worked together with many important orchestras and conductor (e.g. Gürzenich-Orchester Köln / Kölner Philharmoniker under Marek Janowski, Andrew Davis und James Conlon, Israel Chamber Orchestra under Uri Segal, Thessaloniki-Staats-Orchester under Alkis Baltas).
Evidence to the importance of the PCK are the renowned soloists, who have appeared with the choir as guests, among them: Agnes Giebel, Elisabeth Grümmer, Hermann Prey, Wolfgang Anheisser, Edda Moser, and Krisztina Láki. Claudia Schubert, Jörg Dürmüller, Matthias Goerne, James Taylor, Peter Lika, Michael Volle, Christian Elsner, Iride Martinez, Mechthild Georg, Scot Weir, Uwe Heilmann stand for the younger soloist generation.
The PCK has already published under Philipp Röhl's direction number of LP and CD recordings (Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244), Mass in B minor (BWV 232), Schöpfung, as well as the Werfel Cantata and the Te Deum of Rudolf Petzold). Current CD concert recordings under the direction of Horst Meinardus include Messiah by G.F. Handel, Messa da Requiem by G. Verdi and Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) by J.S. Bach. In addition a studio CD with Missa Choralis by Franz Liszt and Motets of A. Bruckner have been released. In 2001 CD recording in with Gürzenich-Orchester Köln / Kölner Philharmoniker under the baton of James Conlon was released. The PCK sings selections from operas, oratorios and masses with the title Prayers (prayers). The choir released on CD the most beautiful choirs from the Weihnachts-Oratorium (BWV 248) with selection from the performance in December 2002.