The Erie Philharmonic Chorus, under the new leadership of Thomas Brooks, is an ensemble of diligent and dedicated volunteer singers providing excellent choral-orchestral performances to enrich the cultural life of our community and region.
We are equally at home with the canon of choral masterworks and more contemporary and lighter selections, and the Chorus regularly appears on both the Symphonic Series and Pops Series of the Erie Philharmonic. Recent performances include Orff's "Carmina Burana," tribute concerts to both Michael Jackson and Queen, Mozart's "Requiem" and Vaughan Williams' "Dona Nobis Pacem."
In addition to our vibrant collaborative relationship with the Erie Philharmonic, we offer community outreach performances during the holiday season and undertake an annual performance of the Christmas portion (Part the First) of Handel's "The Messiah" with orchestra and professional soloists.
Our membership includes young professionals, 50-year veterans of the chorus, advanced high school students, parents, grandparents, couples, first-time choral singers, and professional music educators, all drawn together by our mutual love of making choral music at a high level. Our weekly rehearsals are intensely focused, and singers are expected to prepare music on their own and in sectionals. However, we also strive to be a supportive, tightly-knit community, and we embrace and welcome new members, equipping each singer to succeed and have a joyful musical experience.
As a conductor and clinician C. Thomas Brooks has performed throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, including such venues as Carnegie Hall in New York City, Victoria Hall in Geneva, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the Salzburg Cathedral in Salzburg, Austria. In the Northeast he is well-known as a choral conductor, voice teacher, college professor, opera conductor, and clinician.
After completing graduate work at New England Conservatory he began his career in Erie (PA), where he organized and conducted the Mercyhurst College Choir and Chamber Singers. He was also chosen as the conductor of the Symphonic Singers of Erie in their twenty-fifth anniversary season. After three years he moved to the Hartt School of Music in Hartford (CT) where he conducted the Hartt Chorale, the Collegiate Singers, the Hartt Touring Opera Theatre, and the University Civic Chorus and Chamber Choir, and the Collegium Musicum.
While in Hartford, Professor Brooks conducted the Arts in Unison Bel Canto Opera Company, Connecticut Light Opera on the Sound, was co-founder and musical director of the New Lyric Theatre, a touring educational opera production company, and served four seasons as choral conductor of the national high school European program America’s Youth in Concert. His guest conducting positions included the Portland Repertory Opera Theatre (ME) and Commonwealth Opera (MA). For several seasons he served as musical director of the Northshore Light Opera Company (MA).
Professor Brooks joined the faculty of Texas Tech University as conductor of the Collegiate Singers and Musical Theatre and worked as associate conductor of the University Concert Choir and Chamber Singers. For several summers he was musical director and conductor of the Lubbock Summer Repertory Musical Theatre. He then was appointed Director of Choral Activities and Chair of Vocal Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. During his time in Chicago he was the choral conductor at the Chicago Academy for the Arts and guest conductor with the Chicago Chamber Orchestra.
He then joined the faculty of Gordon College (MA) as Chair of Fine Arts and the Chair of the Department of Music, a position he held for over twenty years. While in the Boston area, he conducted the Montage Chamber Singers (MA), followed by the chamber choir Cantillare (MA). His educational video series - Singing, Acting, Surviving - coauthored with stage director Ronald Luchsinger, was released by TRL Enterprises in conjunction with Schaffner Music Publishers, the publisher of the Thomas Brooks Choral Series.
From 1999-2013 he served as Director of Music for Traditional Services at the historic Park Street Church in Boston. In 2008 he was appointed conductor of the Boston area chamber choir Lyricora (lyricora.org) a position he presently holds. In that year he also co-founded and began his tenure as Managing Director of the Salzburg Institute of Religion, Culture and the Arts (Salzburg-institute.org), with its international symposia, chamber music series, lecture series, and summer undergraduate study program in Vienna and Salzburg, Austria.
After retiring from his full-time teaching and church positions in Boston, his home base is now a 150 acre farm in Erie, which he shares with his wife soprano Susan Brooks and their dog Barkley. Professor Brooks continues his work clinicing choirs, leading choral workshops, conducting Lyricora, and overseeing the Salzburg Institute.
The Erie Philharmonic Chorus began its great tradition in April 1953, singing “La Traviata” under the baton of conductor Fritz Mahler, cousin to the great composer and conductor Gustav Mahler.
In 1955, the chorus and orchestra came together for the first time to present their annual Christmas pops concert. This tradition has continued to this day and consistently draws a sell-out crowd each year.