The Philipp-Nicolai Kantorei Unna (= PNKU) was founded 1949 by the former Kantor of the Ev. Stadtkirche Unna, Uwe Röhl. After his move to the Cathedral of Schleswig, Karl Helmut Herrmann was conductor of the choir for 11 years. After Reinhart Weiß followed in 1970 the appointment of Martin Weimann as Kantor and organist at the Stadtkirche Unna. During this time the basic concept of Kantorei was established, the early singing of music, singing and flute lessons in the beginning and in the preparation of the young singers in the children's and youth choirs for the PNKU. Since 1997, PNKU is directed by KMD Hannelore Höft.
Besides the intensely cultivated a-cappella music, the PNKU performs the great oratorio works of the church music from J.S. Bach to modern. Recently the choir has added a further dimension by preparing George Frideric Handel's oratorio Samson as singing staged implementation for the Year of the Bible in 2003. The singing in the worship is another focus, in which the Kantorei, Jugendkantorei, Kinder- und Posaunenchor participate alternately. The choir even sings secular choral music spanning from the folk song through the madrigal to the musical. The voice training of the choir members is in the hands of the opera singer Guntram Höft.
In 1963 the PNKU appeared in the opening worship of the "11. Deutschen Evangelischen Kirchentages" in Dortmund. For the Anniversary Year of the Music in 1985 (300th birthday of J.S. Bach), the PNKU was invited to Berlin, where together with the Kantorei Steglitz they performed Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) at the Matthäuskirche, and took part in the recording of the Bach Cantata series of the RIAS-Berlin. In 1988, the PNKU, together with the Musikverein sang the choral part in the 9th Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven together with the Westfälische Sinfonieorchester under the baton of the New York guest conductor Meir Minsky. In 1991 the PNKU with the Mädchenchor won the ZDF-City Tournament, a culture competition of the German medium-sized cities, and hence helped the city of Unna to receive the title "City of Culture 1991".
The PNKU opened in 2001 the Arvo Pärt Festival in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) with the Hilliard Ensemble in the presence of the composer. In the same year Deutschlandfunk (German Radio Broadcast) broadcasted a world radio service from the Ev. Stadtkirche Unna with the Bach Cantata Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme (BWV 140). The PNKU opened the Landeskirchenmusiktage 2004 in NRW at the Ev. Stadtkirche Unna. Furthermore, the choir has participated in concerts with famous soloists such as the RIAS-Kammerchor, Estnischer Kammerchor, Uwe Komischke, Barbara Dennerlein, Jane Parker-Smith, Kurt Gundner, Günther Kaunzinger, Iveta Apkalna and with orchestra members of the Münchner Philharmoniker, Duisburger Philharmoniker and many others.
In 2005, the PNKU gave concerts in Pisa and Vicopisano and thus helped to build the partnership between he cities of Unna and Pisa. On the tour the PNKU came to accordance with the Choro del Duomo di Pisa. Other concert tours have led the choir to Schleswig-Holstein, Würzburg (St. Johannes), Roskilde (Denmark), Netherlands, UK, Poland, France (Palaiseau), Switzerland and Austria.
The Philipp-Nicolai Kantorei Unna is named after the famous pastor of Philipp Nicolai in Unna, and whose two most famous hymns "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" and "Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme" were set to music by J.S. Bach.
CD productions: "Jauchzet dem Herrn alle Welt" (works by J.S. Bach, Johann Kuhnau, Josef Rheinberger, Max Reger, Felix Mendelssohn, John Rutter, etc.); "So liebt Gott die Welt" (works by Viadana, Heinrich Schütz, Chilcott, Orlando di Lasso, J.S. Bach).