The Hickory Choral Society is pleased to announce that Dr. Ryan Luhrs has been chosen as their new conductor, following the retirement of founding conductor, J. Don Coleman in December, 2019.

Dr. Luhrs is the Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory. He directs the A Cappella Choir and College Singers, coordinates the Sacred Music Program, and mentors choral music education majors. Prior to his appointment at LRU in 2016, Luhrs was on the faculty and led the music program at Andrew College in Cuthbert, Georgia. He holds a PhD in Choral Conducting and Music Education from Florida State University, a Masters of Sacred Music degree from Luther Seminary (with St. Olaf College), and a B.A. in Music from Luther College. Prior to his graduate studies, Dr. Luhrs taught public school music in both Iowa and Minnesota and also served as a church choir director and/or organist for congregations in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Georgia and North Carolina.

As a conductor, Luhrs sees his primary goals as “facilitating meaningful, transformational choral performances” and “focusing on choral music as a means of building bridges and breaking social barriers.” His research on the impact of choral music with people of diverse backgrounds has been the focus of his doctoral dissertation, various journal articles and presentations at regional and national conferences.

Dr. Luhrs lives in Hickory with his wife, Sarah, and their three children.

Since the spring of 1978, the Hickory Choral Society has delighted audiences with a diverse repertoire of excellent choral music. The Hickory Choral Society provides this region with a series of exciting and well-attended concerts. The all-volunteer group of approximately 100 singers from Catawba and surrounding counties is well known throughout North Carolina, especially for its annual Christmas Concerts. The group has performed numerous concerts with the North Carolina Symphony, and has traveled extensively, performing at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York, Portsmouth and London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland. In April of 2019, the Hickory Choral Society completed a concert tour of Austria and the Czech Republic, performing in Salzburg, Vienna and Prague. The Hickory Choral Society is a funded affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County.

As soon as the current COVID-19 regulations for social distancing and mass gatherings are relaxed enough to allow the group to reconvene, the Hickory Choral Society will begin rehearsals with Dr. Ryan Luhrs as their new conductor! Choral Society singers welcome him into their musical family and look forward to working with him to continue to build on a 40-year strong foundation as well as breaking new ground by establishing innovative and exciting traditions!