By Donald W. Mott

Hickory – The Hickory Choral Society is sponsoring its annual membership drive and hopes to have a record-breaking membership year to help celebrate its 40th anniversary. Memberships in the Hickory Choral Society represent approximately 65% of the organization’s budget, and support the Christmas, Spring, and Fall concerts, as well as special concerts, such as downtown Hickory’s Singing Under the Sails, a children’s Cookies and Carols Christmas concert and occasional concerts such as those performed in Carnegie Hall or with the Western Piedmont Symphony. Memberships also support a Summer Camp for rising 4th through 6th graders, and a music lending library for the community. Admission to Hickory Choral Society concerts is free, but members receive vouchers for reserved seating at concerts, as well as admission to the annual membership reception, held after the Fall concert each year. Besides these tangible benefits, being a Hickory Choral Society member means supporting excellent choral music in our area, making the community a better place to live and a better place to do business.

Led throughout its entire 40-year history by Conductor J. Don Coleman, the Hickory Choral Society has earned a reputation for excellence, frequently attracting well-known guest conductors, such as Sir David Willcocks, Anton Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Mack Wilberg, Elena Sharkova, and Dan Forrest. The Hickory Choral Society had a concert recorded and broadcast on UNC-TV; and thanks to a generous gift from the Millholland Foundation, commissioned the composition of a major work by Dan Forrest, Requiem for the Living, premiered by the Hickory Choral Society in 2013. The piece has become one of the most frequently performed choral works in the world, with hundreds of performances world-wide, including multiple performances at Carnegie Hall. Since its founding 40 years ago, the Hickory Choral Society has performed several hundred concerts in local venues such as Corinth Reformed Church and First Baptist Church in Hickory, as well as in Europe, in the Washington National Cathedral, and in Carnegie Hall in New York.

This year’s membership drive is unique because it is part of a set of events celebrating the Hickory Choral Society’s 40 years of bringing choral music to life in the Catawba Valley area. Other planned events include recording a commemorative CD, supported by a grant from the United Arts Council of Catawba County; hosting a reunion event for current and former singers; and dedicating a new rehearsal hall in the SALT Block, the Arts and Science Center of Catawba Valley.

The rehearsal hall was built as the result of a capital campaign supported by hundreds of community members, foundations and businesses. Reflecting on the Hickory Choral Society’s 40-year history, Coleman said, “It is the dedication and talent of the singers combined with the tremendous support of the community that has made Hickory Choral Society successful, and will continue to make us successful for the next 40 years.”

The Hickory Choral Society’s president, Thomas Griffis, said, “Singing in the Hickory Choral Society is a privilege and a joyous experience.” The word “joy” is frequently used by singers and audience members when describing the Hickory Choral Society. In fact, it is the thirst for joy, and the desire to bring joy to others, that ties all members of the Hickory Choral Society together.

Hickory Choral Society memberships start at $50 per year ($45 for seniors), make great gifts, and are available by calling the Hickory Choral Society office at (828) 322-2210, or by visiting the website at

(Donald W. Mott is Vice President of the Hickory Choral Society)

The Hickory Choral Society in concert