STOUGHTON (CBS) – Stoughton is named after the notorious William Stoughton, chief judge of the Salem witch trials. It is home to the only train station in Massachusetts with a clock tower. And a visit wouldn’t be complete without ordering pizza from the bar at Town Spa, in business for 65 years.
Corn Old Stoughton Musical Society has been around a little longer.
“We are in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest operating music company in the United States. We are 235 years old, ”said Renée LeBlanc.
The choir is conducted by LeBlanc, the first female director of the society since its formation in 1786.
What was once an all-male choir is very different nowadays. But the music has remained the same, fulfilling the company’s original mission of preserving and performing the songs of American composers such as William Billings.
“After singing with different community choirs I found this place and thought it was cool, it’s historic, it means something,” said LeBlanc.
The company performed at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893, and before that, it participated in America’s very first singing competition.
“Thinking of Dorchester, they were really good, and they were really, really good,” challenged the Old Stoughton Musical Society to a mostly vocal duel. So Dorchester sang first, then Stoughton sang. And then Dorchester sang again, then Stoughton sang the Allelujah choir without music, without accompaniment. The crowd went wild and Dorchester put her head down and said ‘Yeah you won’, ”said LeBlanc.
The choral society even follows the same rules as the group created in the 1700s. This means no singing in the taverns, nor late practices.
“They had a rule that you couldn’t rehearse after 8:30 am. At 8:30 am you had to go home because if you were a good, honest citizen you should be home with your family, ”said LeBlanc.
“I couldn’t imagine not coming here regularly,” said Mark Sommers, choir member.
Sommers and his wife Holly drive an hour and a half for the band’s weekly rehearsals and are currently preparing for the upcoming Christmas concert “A Light in the Darkness”.
“Haven’t we all been through the darkness in the last year and a half, two years?” There is a quote, “Instead of complaining about the dark, light a candle. It’s our candle to the world, ”said LeBlanc.
The Old Stoughton Musical Society live, in-person Christmas concert will take place on Saturday, December 11 at 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Stoughton. It will also be broadcast live on their The Facebook page.