Chorus of Westerly

119 High St
Westerly RI  02891

Phone: (401) 596-8663

Chorus of Westerly

The Chorus of Westerly - "Reliably Cool..." (Rick Koster, the New London Day) Experience the nation's only fully intergenerational chorus. 200 singers: 120 adults, 80 children and teenagers. Singing every concert, every time, together.

Music Director – Andrew Howell
Executive Director – Ryan Saunders

Since 1959, the Chorus of Westerly (a not-for-profit performing arts organization) has offered New England music and arts programming of the very highest level of quality and excellence. In its 52 years, the Chorus has presented more than 500 performances to over 1.5 million people. The Chorus has performed over ninety major choral works (always with fully professional orchestras and soloists), presented ten major American premieres, toured internationally three times (singing in such venues as Westminster Abbey and St. Peter’s Basilica), and received countless awards and recognition for its work. It has established regional traditions including Summer Pops (an event that annually attracts 25,000 people) and A Celebration of Twelfth Night (an event with over 350 performers annually). It has changed the lives of countless generations of New England residents. Over 2,500 area residents have been a singing member of the Chorus, 1,200 of whom sang as children. It has purchased, restored, and expanded its own performance venue, the historic George Kent Performance Hall, and is now one of only three independent American choral organizations to own their own performance venue.

The Chorus membership is one of the reasons the organization is so special. The Chorus is presently one of only two independent choral organizations in the United States that combines adults and children in all performances throughout the entire concert season. What this means is that child members sing every concert of the season regardless to the programmed work’s length, size, or difficulty. Children are not called in just for certain concerts. They are members of equal rank with the adults and are held to the very same high standards. To keep up, the children must rehearse rigorously twice a week and audition prior to each performance to make sure they are prepared. This program has allowed over 1,500 children to, at very young ages, have the opportunity to sing the great works of Verdi, Bach, and Beethoven the “way it should be” with full professional orchestras, soloists, and in front of educated and enthusiastic crowds. The opportunity to have this artistic experience is, for a child in a small town USA, beyond rare.

While the Chorus membership is made up of volunteer singers, the professional orientation of the Chorus is apparent in each and every event. The vast majority of the adult singers have received some professional voice training. The children of the Chorus spend extra time before the season at a special choir camp learning theory, vocal technique, and other choral exercises to better train them for the year ahead. For concerts with works that require soloists, professional vocal artists are hired and brought in to perform. These soloists are highly respected national and international artists and often work with our singers during their weekend performance stays. The Boston Festival Orchestra, a collection of professional freelance musicians drawn from Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, is brought in for every performance that requires orchestral musicians. The orchestra size for a particular concert is not budget driven but rather score driven. This means if the score calls for an orchestra of 45 musicians, the Chorus hires the appropriate number and does not reduce for budget issues. This helps ensure the authentic music experience for the performers and audience. It is the objective of the Chorus to perform great works of music as one would hear them in the great American concert halls of Boston, New York, or San Francisco.

For some of the Chorus’s events that are not typical symphonic concerts, such as the theatrical A Celebration of Twelfth Night, the Chorus brings in professional theater directors, choreographers, performers, lighting technicians, and stage crew (the majority of whom are from Rhode Island) to work with the many volunteer performers and production assistants to present shows as professionally as possible. For Summer Pops, the Chorus engages professional sound and light companies (Capron of Boston), firework professionals (Grucci), and other special event professionals to create the best possible community event.

Over the past seasons, looking to broaden its arts offerings and bring in new audiences, the Chorus has launched its Collegiate Concert Series and its Family Event Series to engage new and younger audience members with the performing arts through high quality, but accessible, programming. The Whiffenpoofs of Yale and the Dartmouth Aires have recently been featured. The Chorus will also be restarting its "Guest Choral Concert Series" in 2013 with an appearance by The King's Singers at Kent Hall. The program will expand in 2013-2014. Previous guests have included groups such as Chanticleer, The Tallis Scholars, The Trinity College Choir, The Choir of King's College, and others.

The Chorus's founding music director will retire on June 30, 2012. After a national search, Andrew Howell, currently of the University of Rhode Island Chorus, was appointed in March as the second director in the Chorus history. Mr. Howell begins for the 2012-13 season.

For information contact Ryan Saunders, executive director at ryan@chorusofwesterly.org

To perform, with artistic integrity, both the major classic works of the choral literature and new or lesser-known pieces of merit.

To educate children and adults of diverse backgrounds in the appreciation, understanding, and performance of great music.


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Business Information


Founded: 1959
Parking: Parking Lot

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Non-Profit Organization, Performing Arts Education




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Past Events

The Music Makers (Elgar) - Chorus of Westerly Symphonic Series

The Music Makers (Elgar) - Chorus of Westerly Symphonic Series
02:00 pm - 11/12/2017

At Chorus of Westerly

The Chorus of Westerly’s 59th Season Symphonic Series debuts with THE MUSIC MAKERS, a moving work by twentieth century composer, Edward Elgar. Rarely performed...

The Music Makers (Elgar)- Chorus of Westerly Symphonic Series

The Music Makers (Elgar)- Chorus of Westerly Symphonic Series
06:00 pm - 11/11/2017

At Chorus of Westerly

The Chorus of Westerly’s 59th Season Symphonic Series debuts with THE MUSIC MAKERS, a moving work by twentieth century composer, Edward Elgar. Rarely performed...

Chanticleer in Westerly - Kent Hall Masters Series

Chanticleer in Westerly - Kent Hall Masters Series
06:00 pm - 10/28/2017

At Chorus of Westerly

The Chorus of Westerly welcomes back to Kent Hall, CHANTICLEER, for one performance of "Heart of a Soldier" on Sat, Oct 28, at 6 pm. Tickets on sale now at tickets.chorusofwesterly.org...

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