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Belfast Philharmonic Society gives its first performance of Handel's Messiah in December 1886.

The Philharmonic Orchestra is disbanded and the Society continues as a choral society.

Our repertoire is varied and includes many major works - Mendelssohn's Elijah and Dream of Gerontius, Mozart Requiem, Brahms' German Requiem, works by Bach, Beethoven, Rossini, Bruckner and Karl Jenkins to name but a few, not forgetting our annual performances of Handel's Messiah.


Belfast Philharmonic Choir also endeavours to bring modern/new classical music to a wider audience.  Following the Cross Border Youth Choir's involvement with the world première of Patrick Hawes' Great War Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall, Belfast Philharmonic Choir was honoured to be one of the choirs from around the world invited to send singers to New York to take part in the US première.  


In our 2017-18 season there were two European premières, Stuart Scott's Requiem Brevis in November, and, in May, Christopher Marshall's Earthsong, the latter with our Phil Kids Junior Choir.  In 2015 we performed the world première of James Whitbourn's The Seven Heavens, written especially for us to commemorate our 140th anniversary.  In 2012 we sang in another world première - Titanic Requiem, a commemoration of those lost on the Titanic by Philip Hammond.  


Apart from the usual choral fare, Belfast Philharmonic Choir takes part in an interesting array of projects.  In May 2018 19 of our singers were excited to take part in the Game of Thrones Concert Experience European Tour, conducted by series composer Ramin Djawadi himself!  They formed the stage choir for two spectacular evenings, one at the 3Arena, Dublin and the other at the SSE Arena, Belfast.


Earlier in the season we switched genres again and joined the Ulster Orchestra to sing favourite tunes from the musicals, a concert which was recorded and later broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster's Classical Connections.


We have also been engaged to sing at weddings and perform recitals in a local golf club.


2014 saw us working in collaboration with the Belfast Film Festival and the Ulster Orchestra to perform the music from Star Wars and Patrick Doyle music as heard in the films of Sir Kenneth Branagh.  


We have also accompanied Kathryn Jenkins at the Odyssey Arena (now the SSE Arena) and sung with Ennio Morriconi and his orchestra for Belfast Festival at Queens.





The Belfast Philharmonic Choir (affectionately known as "The Phil") led by music director Stephen Doughty, is Northern Ireland's only symphonic choir.


The 120+ strong choir performs at least four programmes per year, many alongside the Ulster Orchestra, including performances of Handel's Messiah every Christmas - a tradition that goes back as far as 1886!


We also travel and have performed in Derry/Londonderry and most recently in Dublin.  In August 2017 we undertook a highly successful three date concert tour performing to full houses in Opole Cathedral and Christ The King Cathedral in Katowice, Poland and The Philharmonia Concert Hall in Lviv, Ukraine.

The Philharmonic Orchestra replaced by the City of Belfast Orchestra.  

The BBC creates the BBC Northern Ireland Light Orchestra but this is shortlived.

BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra forms the basis of the new Ulster Orchestra.





- 1966

140th Anniversary Season got underway in September 2014.  The season culminated in a Gala

Concert in the Ulster Hall on 30th May, 2015 where Belfast Philharmonic Choir gave the world première of

James Whitbourn's The Seven Heavens, which was specially commissioned for the event.


If you are thinking of joining a choir, come along to one of our concerts and see us in action.  


Belfast Philharmonic Choir is always on the look out for new Sopranos, Altos, Tenors and Basses and we recruit at the start of each season.  It may also be possible to join in January, concert schedule permitting.


We meet at 7.30 pm each Wednesday at St Bride's Hall, 38 Derryvolgie Avenue, Belfast,

BT9 6FP.  Members travel from across Northern Ireland to be part of the Phil tradition.


Our next Open Rehearsals are planned for autumn 2020 with details available as soon as possible.  Prospective members can join us for the open evenings and get a taste of what being in the Phil is all about.


If you enjoy the experience, continue to come along and we will arrange a short audition for you.

Join our mailing list or follow us on social media to be kept up-to-date with our Open Rehearsals and auditions.



Belfast Philharmonic Society was founded in September 1874 by the amalgamation of The Classical Harmonists (est. 1851) and Belfast Music Society (est. 1872).


This was seen as a natural progression, bringing choir and instrumentalists together into one society.


Phil Kids/Phil Youth Choirs 10th Anniversary Season.


Cross Border Youth Choir takes part in Patrick Hawes' Great War Symphony world première at Royal Albert Hall.

The adult choir sends singers to New York to take part in its US première of the centenary of Armistice Day at Carnegie Hall.

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