PCMS was founded in 1986 by Anthony P. Checchia, Artistic Director, with assistance from Philip Maneval, Executive Director. Its founding was made possible, in part, through special support from Elizabeth Starr Cummin, founding President, and from the Presser Foundation, Samuel Fels Fund, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
Prior to the Society's founding, many leading chamber groups and recitalists had no opportunity to perform in Philadelphia. The Society's first season of seven concerts sold out quickly, and waiting lists were compiled of additional people wanting to attend.
In response to audience interest and community need, PCMS expanded its program every year. It added a Piano Series in 1987, a Vocal Series in 1990, and a Jazz/Cross Over Series in 1994. In the mid-1990's, it began the "Concerts for the Community" series in partnership with the Musical Fund Society, and it received support from the Pew Charitable Trusts for a six-year Composers Commissioning Project.
Over the years, PCMS has remained committed to its founding principles: to enable people from all walks of life to enjoy exceptional music-making at affordable ticket prices, to fulfill musical needs of the community, and to build a broad group of directors, staff members, audiences, and patrons who are devoted to these goals and to insuring the Society's future.