The Radcliffe Choral Society of Harvard University (= RCS) is a choir of sixty women dedicated to excellence in the performance of music for women's voices. Their repertoire ranges from secular to sacred, Renaissance to recent, a cappella to accompanied - the simple to the simply sublime.
The RCS was founded in 1898 by Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, the first President of Radcliffe. The RCS became one of the oldest women's choirs in the nation and the oldest women's organization at Radcliffe. In 1913, under the leadership of Dr. Archibald T. Davison, the RCS began a tradition of collaboration with the Harvard Glee Club and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Through Davison's conductorship and that of his successors, the RCS continued to gain prominence throughout the USA as a women's choir of distinction and excellence.
In the fall of 1978, Beverly Taylor became the conductor of the RCS. She led the RCS on four international tours: to the British Isles in 1979, to Northern Europe in 1983, to Central Europe in 1987, and to Sweden, Poland, and Czechoslovakia in 1992. The RCS received several international prizes on these tours, including Second Prize at the Dutch International Koorfest in the Hague and first prize in the Youth Division of the International Eisteddfod in Llangolen, Wales. Under her dynamic leadership, the group achieved tremendous growth and acclaim.
In 1995, the RCS was joined by Jameson Marvin. The group's recent endeavors have included its fifth international tour, to Western Europe in the summer of 1996, performing in concerts in France, Monaco, Switzerland, and Italy; a performance of Johannes Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem at Lincoln Center in New York City with the Harvard Glee Club; a fourth appearance at the American Choral Directors' Association (ACDA) Convention; and the production of a compact disc. In 1996, Constance DeFotis joined the RCS as the Associate Director of Choral Activities at Harvard. In the spring of 1998, the RCS went on tour to England.
In 1999, RCS celebrated its 100th birthday with a Centennial Celebration. Among the festivities was a concert, alumnae reunion, receptions, and banquet. It was a great way for women to come together and celebrate 100 years of song with RCS. The year ended with the performance of L.v. Beethoven's 9th Symphony at Arts First and RCS' sixth international tour to South America.
The past three years (2002-2004) have included Spring Tours to Virginia, Northern California, and New Orleans, as well as numerous combined concerts with the Harvard Glee Club and Collegium Musicum, and a Festival of Women's Choruses that included the women's choirs of Wellesley, Cornell University Chorus, and Dana Hall. Last year (2004), the RCS combined with Harvard Glee Club and Collegium Musicum to celebrate Jim Marvin's 25th Anniversary with a performance of L.v. Beethoven's Missa Solemnis.
The 2003-2004 season included a combined performance of the Mozart Requiem in D with the Harvard Glee Club and the Harvard Radcliffe Collegium Musicum for the ACDA. RCS also made history as the first choir from Harvard to tour in South Africa.
This year (2005) RCS is excited to be hosting a festival of women's choruses in the fall. They are also planning a spring tour to Atlanta in March as well as a combined performance of J. Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Harvard Glee Club and the Collegium Musicum in May.