Stoughton Musical Society
Organized in 1786, this is currently America's oldest choral society. Over the past two centuries it has had many distinguished accomplishments. In 1908, when incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the name was changed to Old Stoughton Musical Society. It has retained that designation ever since.

Early years

From the inspiration of a singing school given in Stoughton
Stoughton, Massachusetts
Stoughton is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 26,962 at the 2010 census. The town is located approximately from Boston, from Providence, and from Cape Cod.-History:...

 in 1774 by Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 composer, William Billings
William Billings
William Billings was an American choral composer, and is widely regarded as the father of American choral music...

, a group of male singers in town decided to form a singing society. There were 25 names and all of them listed in the membership journal with the date of organization being November 7, 1786. Their first President was Elijah Dunbar, 1740-1814, from Canton. He was also their conductor and a singer.The first music collection the musical society purchased was The Worcester Collection of Sacred Harmony compiled by Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas , was an American newspaper publisher and author. He performed the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Worcester, Massachusetts and reported the first account of the Battles of Lexington and Concord...

 in 1786, which contained the first American printing of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.

Singing Contest

According to the musical society's 1929 history book, the Stoughton singers met a chorus from the nearby First Parish Church in Dorchester about the year 1790. This is believed to be the first singing contest held in America. The Dorchester chorus consisting of men and women were accompanied by a bass viol, the Stoughton Musical Society had twenty selected male voices and sang without accompaniment. The Stoughton singers first performed Jacob French's anthem, The Heavenly Vision, which they performed from memory. Next, the Dorchester chorus performed an unidentified piece. Then the Stoughton singers performed Handel's majestic Hallelujah Chorus from his oratorio, Messiah. again from memory. Following that performance, the Dorchester chorus acknowledged defeat and the Stoughton singers won the contest.

Centennial Celebration

On June 9, 1886 the Stoughton Musical Society celebrated its centennial with a full day of activities including a special dinner and an evening concert attended by both Governor George D. Robinson and Lt. Governor Oliver Ames. Gov. Robinson spoke glowingly about this centennial concert, ending with these remarks: "Let me commend, so far as my opinion can possibly extend, the fine production of this evening. It has afforded me real delight." The featured work for the concert was Haydn's oratorio, The Creation, for soloists, chorus and orchestra.

World's Fair Concerts

One of their greatest achievements took place at the World's Columbian Exposition
World's Columbian Exposition
The World's Columbian Exposition was a World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492. Chicago bested New York City; Washington, D.C.; and St...

 in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 in 1893. The Stoughton Musical Society's 100 musicians performed two concerts in the Music Hall. Both the singers and orchestra wore Colonial costumes. At the first concert on August 14, there were 2,000 people in attendance, more than had attended the symphony concerts conducted by Theodore Thomas. The music performed by the musical society consisted of 24 pieces by such 18th century New England composers as: William Billings
William Billings
William Billings was an American choral composer, and is widely regarded as the father of American choral music...

, Oliver Holden, Jacob French, and Daniel Read. Some of these composers were later recorded by the Stoughton Musical Society on their LP album in 1975 titled "An Appeal to Heaven."

Stoughton Composers

The small town of Stoughton
Stoughton is the name of some places:in the United States of America:*Stoughton, Massachusetts**Stoughton *Stoughton, Wisconsin*Stoughton Hall, Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MassachusettsIn England:*Stoughton, Leicestershire*Stoughton, Surrey...

 has produced a number of composers who have written music performed by the Stoughton Musical Society and other performing organizations:
  • 18th century
    • Supply Belcher
      Supply Belcher
      Supply Belcher was an American composer, singer, and compiler of tune books. He was one of the members of the so-called First New England School, a group of mostly self-taught composers who created sacred vocal music for local choirs. He was active first in Lexington, Massachusetts, then...

      , b. 1751/ d. 1836 (Farmington, Maine)
    • Samuel Capen, b. 1745/ d. 1809 (Canton, Massachusetts)
    • Edward French, b. 1761/ d. 1845 (Sharon, Massachusetts)
    • Jacob French, b. 1754/ d. 1817 (Simsbury, Connecticut)
  • 19th century
    • Alanson Belcher, b. 1810/ d. 1900 (Stoughton)
    • Edwin Arthur Jones
      Edwin Arthur Jones
      Edwin Arthur Jones, was an American composer. He was called "one modest man who knows the power of music" by Edward Everett Hale, author of The Man Without a Country. This modest man, from a rural Massachusetts town about 20 miles south of Boston, composed some very significant works...

      , b. 1854/ d. 1911 (Stoughton)-- his cantata for soloists, chorus and orchestra, Song of Our Saviour (1881), received its world premiere performance in Stoughton in 1992.
  • 20th century
    • F. William Kempf, b. 1901/ d. 1950 (Stoughton)- one of his instrumental works, Suite Classique (1940) was performed by the Boston Pops, conducted by Arthur Fiedler.
    • Laura Shafer Gebhardt, b. 1885/ d. 1959 (Stoughton) - composed Flag of All Our Country for the bicentennial of the Town of Stoughton in 1926.
    • Roger Lee Hall
      Roger Lee Hall
      Roger Lee Hall is an American composer and music preservationist.-Personal:Hall grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Bloomfield High School in 1960, where he was already involved with writing songs. He began his music career with piano lessons and as a songwriter during the 1960s...

      , b. 1942 - composed several commemorative pieces, including Peace (1981) and Dedication (1986).

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.