Hickory – Don Coleman, Conductor of the Hickory Choral Society for forty-one years, will retire in December 2019, at the conclusion of the annual Christmas Concerts at Corinth Reformed Church. Coleman founded the Hickory Choral Society in 1978 and has led the group of now 110 singers from eight counties to outstanding recognition, not only in North Carolina but also with performances in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the National Cathedral in Washington DC, and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC.
Coleman has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and foresight in leading HCS. He and his family moved to Hickory in 1969, where Coleman initially spent three years as Hickory High School Choral Director, building a program to over 300 students. Don then worked for forty years with Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company, where he served as President/CEO for sixteen years; he now serves as a consultant to numerous furniture associations and continues service on many non-profit boards around the state.
Throughout his career, Don continued to direct the Choral Society as a volunteer, making a huge impact on the region. Under his leadership and due to the generosity of donors, HCS built a state of the art rehearsal hall in 2015; this space in the SALT Block was originally the Hickory High choral room. HCS also offers summer choral camp for children; a music lending library with 15,000 scores; grants for music teachers to expand music education in the public schools; the popular Cookies and Carols holiday concert for children; and eight professional concerts annually for the community.
Over forty-one years, Don’s vision and partnerships have created outstanding opportunities for singers. HCS has enjoyed a long partnership with the Western Piedmont Symphony, performing ten concerts together over the years. UNC-Public Television broadcast the HCS Christmas Concert at Corinth Church across the state in 2003. HCS has performed with several guest conductors including Sir David Willcocks, Jonathan Willcocks, Gerhardt Zimmerman, and guest performer Dave Brubeck. In celebration of HCS’ 35th Anniversary year in 2013, the group also commissioned Requiem for the Living by Dan Forrest; this piece is now one of the most often performed choral works in the world.
HCS has made two concert tours in Europe, one this past spring when the choir performed at the Salzburg Cathedral as well as in Vienna and Prague, Czech Republic. In 1997, through a relationship Coleman developed with Jonathan Willcocks, HCS also travelled to Great Britain for a joint concert with the Portsmouth Choral Union , the oldest choral ensemble in the country. In June 2000, the Portsmouth group returned to Hickory to perform with HCS.
Coleman will leave the Hickory Choral Society with a rich history and an exciting vision for growth and expansion. In Don’s words: “I credit the singers and the faithful long term patrons of HCS, for the continued success of the Hickory Choral Society. I thank the owners of Hickory Springs Manufacturing for their magnanimous support of HCS and me personally through my tenure at HCS. I know this will be a historic transition for HCS but have full confidence in the HCS Board of Directors, the singers and our community to ensure excellence in choral performance and education in our region for years to come. It has been a true gift to serve the Hickory Choral Society; they are like family to me.”