The Coshocton Community Choir was founded in the fall of 1971 by Charles R. Snyder. Snyder had returned to the community the year before and was convinced that the time was ripe for a more permanent choral group in Coshocton County – one that would specialize in sacred music. Snyder met with the Coshocton City Schools superintendent, Roy McKinley, who encouraged his efforts and pledged a rehearsal room at the Middle School for the new organization. Thus, the Coshocton Community Choir was born.
The first Choir had thirty-five singers, and the first concert, the Christmas portion of Handel’s “Messiah,” was presented at Grace United Methodist Church that December. A harpsichord was built for the performance by conductor Snyder and tenor Ed Chu – the Choir’s only tenor at the time.
At first, attempts to schedule spring concerts to follow the Christmas presentations of “Messiah,” were unsuccessful. A major rebirth occurred in the fall of 1976. Presbyterian Church organist, Helen Wright, assumed duties of coordinator, and the following spring parts II and III of “Messiah” were presented.
“Messiah,” with local soloists and a few instrumentalists – supplemented by hiring string players – continued to be the musical fare until the spring of 1978. The difficulty in securing string players caused Snyder to change course, and he turned to the a cappella tradition he had experienced at Capital University.
Early concerts were held at Grace Church, St. John’s United Church of Christ and Emmanuel Lutheran Church. All were the right size for the 45-voice choir and the audiences at that point in the Choir’s history. Later, as the membership began to grow, and with it the size of the audiences, performances were moved to The Presbyterian Church where a new pipe organ and a larger renovated chancel made continued Choir and audience growth possible.
The 1981-1982 and 1982-1983 seasons saw major changes to the Choir. Membership suddenly mushroomed to 70 singers and it became apparent that more organization was needed. Officers were elected for the first time, section leaders were appointed, a logo was commissioned and the group began to work toward the goal of becoming self-supporting. Paul Christiansen’s Concordia Choir was sponsored in a local concert, and Columbus composer Garry A. Cornell was commissioned to write an anthem for the Choir’s new “Festival Te Deum Series.” The composition, “In Glad Adoration,” was premiered by the Choir with composer Cornell conducting.
Concerts were moved from churches to public auditoriums – first the Triple Locks Center, and then Coshocton High School’s McKinley Auditorium. Tickets were sold to help underwrite expenses, and the audiences tripled!
By 1984 Choir membership had grown to 100 singers. Auditions to fill openings were first held in 1985. Major gifts from the Coshocton Foundation, Edward and Frances Montgomery, and Mr. and Mrs. Seward Schooler helped enable the Choir to purchase robes, risers, and an acoustical shell prior to the 1984 Christmas concerts. In April, 1985, the Choir was incorporated as a non-profit organization with the help of Choir friend, attorney Harold E. Hunt.
In addition to singing two major concert programs each year, the Choir appears occasionally at community celebrations. A new dimension of sound was experienced in the springs of 1987 and 1988 when the Choir joined the Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra for combined concerts in Coshocton. An orchestrated setting of “In Glad Adoration” was premiered at the 1988 event. The Choir has also sung in Mt. Gilead, Somerset, Grove City, Dover, Newcomerstown, and Dresden, and has performed for two conferences of the Ohio Choral Directors Association. This summer will mark the Choir’s fifth appearance on the prestigious concert series at Lakeside, on Lake Erie.
Since its founding, more than seven hundred singers have sung with the Choir, which has become known for its renditions of sacred a cappella literature. The singers come from all backgrounds, vocations and walks of life – literally from every segment of the community. Their zeal and enthusiasm on behalf of the Choir attest to the fine results which can be generated when a group of people come together for a common cause – in this case, choral music. They are indeed fulfilling the dream Snyder had for the group, which is expressed in its motto: To worship God through song, and to inspire others to undertake a similar service.