HICKORY — Don Coleman, conductor of the Hickory Choral Society for 41 years, will retire in December, 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, S.C.
Coleman and his family moved to Hickory in 1969. Coleman initially spent three years as Hickory High School choral director, building a program to more than 300 students. He then worked for 40 years with Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company, where he served as president/CEO for 16 years. He now serves as a consultant to numerous furniture associations and continues service on many nonprofit boards around the state.
Throughout his career, Coleman continued to direct the Choral Society as a volunteer. Under his leadership and due to the generosity of donors, HCS built a rehearsal hall in 2015. The 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 concerts annually for the community.
HCS has enjoyed a long partnership with the Western Piedmont Symphony, performing 10 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. HCS has made two concert tours in Europe, one this past spring.
“I credit the singers and the faithful long-term patrons of HCS, for the continued success of the Hickory Choral Society,” Coleman said. “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.”
The HCS board is expected to announce Coleman's successor as conductor in 2020.