History of the Choir

The Cary Community Choir of Cary, North Carolina is a special choir assembled annually for the presentation of the Christmas portion of Messiah by George Frederic Handel for the Cary Community.

The Cary Community Choir traces its origin to Cary’s Centennial Celebration in 1971, for which citizens of the town were encouraged to dress in centennial costumes.  Centennial Sunday took place in the summer with a worship service that was held at the football stadium of Cary High School.  Local church choirs combined to provide music. The three principal choir directors involved were Stuart Thompson, minister of music and youth at First Baptist Church, Mary Raver, choir director at Cary Methodist Church (now First UMC), and Bill Easter, choir director at White Plains Methodist Church. Thompson directed the combined choir.

After the service, the three directors discussed the possibility of getting the choirs back together to perform a more challenging piece of music.  After some deliberation, Handel’s Messiah was chosen. Rehearsals began in October, meeting every Tuesday evening until the work was performed on the first Sunday in December. Thompson conducted the rehearsals, but Charles Gatwood, director of music for the Baptist State Convention, was eventually brought in to conduct the performance.  Because the first presentation was so well received, the presentations continued annually under Gatwood’s direction.