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Summary highlights

- Chorus to launch a new after school program in all of Westerly’s elementary schools on January 27, 2020
- Chorus to launch a new non-auditioned adult choral ensemble open to all; Program begins in February, 2020
- Chorus has appointed Kathryn Aaron as Assistant Conductor




WESTERLY, RI – As the Chorus of Westerly reaches its actual 60th birthday this week, their first concert being held on December 13, 1959, the acclaimed ensemble has announced a dramatic expansion of musical and educational programs. Additionally, to augment and help lead these efforts, the Chorus has appointed a new artistic staff member, Kathryn Aaron, who will serve as the organization’s first Assistant Conductor.

Beginning in late January and early February, the Chorus of Westerly will launch two new artistic initiatives designed to engage more members of the community with music making by introducing them to choral singing – Chorus of Westerly in the Schools and The Chorus of Westerly Foundations Chorus.

The first program, Chorus of Westerly in the Schools, will begin on January 27 and run throughout the entire academic year. This Chorus of Westerly initiative will provide a free after school choir program – based on the main Chorus of Westerly training model – that will take place in each one of Westerly’s elementary schools. Thanks to the support of generous donors to the Chorus of Westerly, the program will be offered once a week at each respective school. The program is open to any interested child in grades 3 or 4. Auditions will not be required and there will be no costs to the children to participate in the program. Complimentary late bus service home after rehearsal will also be provided. The Chorus in the Schools program was recently piloted in Springbrook Elementary School with much success. Because of the success of the pilot, and with the full support of the Westerly School District, the program is now being launched in all three elementary schools. The new Chorus of Westerly in the Schools program itself is designed to augment the excellent musical education already being received by Westerly students. Chorus of Westerly in the Schools will thus serve as an extension of musical training for those students who have a desire to take their musical education even farther. The program’s training structure will be based on the same successful models that are currently taught at the Chorus of Westerly.

The second program, The Chorus of Westerly Foundations Chorus, will be a new choral ensemble for adult singers under the Chorus of Westerly organization’s banner. Different from the main ensemble of the Chorus of Westerly, this particular chorus will be non-auditioned. Anyone, regardless of musical background, ability, or training is welcome to join this ensemble as a singer. The purpose of this chorus is three-fold. One, to serve as an outlet for all those who wish to make quality music with a community of singers. Two, to provide a rehearsal pace that will give singers of varying abilities the time to learn repertoire and grow as musicians. And, finally, to serve as a musical training choir of sorts for adult singers, giving those who might not have a deep singing or musical background the fundamental musicianship tools to become confident and independent musicians. The ensemble will not perform as part of the Chorus of Westerly’s main performances or as part of the regular concert season, but instead will have their own informal concert at the end of each semester.


The Foundations Chorus will be open to absolutely anyone to be a part of and will meet on Wednesday evenings, 7 pm to 8:30 pm, beginning on February 5 and going through the middle of May. Those who wish to sign up for the program may do so by simply calling the Chorus of Westerly at 401.596.8663 or stopping in at the George Kent Performance Hall (119 High Street) during regular weekdays business hours of 9 am to 5 pm. There will be a small cost to adults for participating in the Foundations Chorus of $100 per semester (semesters are to be offered annually February to May and September to December).



Chorus Appoints Kathryn Aaron as Assistant Conductor


Andrew Howell, the Marion and Bill Palm Music Director of the Chorus of Westerly, will co-direct both of the new Chorus of Westerly educational ventures. However, acknowledging the demands of such expansion, the Chorus of Westerly recently conducted a national search for a new Assistant Conductor to help lead these new programs. After an extensive search process, the organization has appointed Kathryn Aaron, of Niantic, Connecticut as the new Assistant Conductor.

Ms. Aaron comes to the Chorus of Westerly with a solid background in vocal training, music education, choral singing, and conducting. Additionally, she has extensive experience working with youth and adult singers, professionals and volunteers, in many different types of choirs. During her professional tenure, Ms. Aaron has worked extensively with many Early Music and Baroque ensembles including Catacoustic Consort, Eudaimonia, Pomerium, and the American Baroque Orchestra. She has also shared the stage with many important conductors including Masaaki Suzuki, Simon Carrington, Helmut Rilling, and recently worked with Ian Watson and the Arcadia Players. Beyond her performance background, Ms. Aaron is true scholar and student of music. She holds degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins, the Jacob School of Music at Indiana University, and the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale. Her professional conducting work as taken to her to churches and institutions across New England where she has had extensive experience teaching children and adult amateurs how to sing and read music, both in sacred and secular traditions.


“We are very excited Kathryn Aaron is joining us,” states Andrew Howell. “Having the background, education, and talent she has, combined with her amazing ability to connect to people, will serve her well. We are so lucky to have found her and that she agreed to come on board. She is the perfect person to join us as we expand the footprint of the Chorus of Westerly with these two new exciting artistic ventures.”

Executive Director of the Chorus of Westerly Ryan Saunders agrees. “Ms. Aaron’s gifts and ability to teach music intergenerationally will not only help the current Chorus of Westerly and its singers, but will most definitely impact those children and adults who will begin singing in our new programs. We cannot wait for her to begin and our new programs to begin.”

In addition to her duties with the new Chorus of Westerly in the Schools and Foundations Chorus programs, Ms. Aaron will serve as a true assistant conductor to Andrew Howell with the main Chorus of Westerly and as part of its regular performance season, stepping in as needed and helping in the preparation of our full season of offerings. She will begin her tenure with the Chorus on January 2, 2020.

Above all, states Saunders, this expansion of the Chorus is what he and Howell see as the logical next step in the implementation of the organization’s mission. “Our mission at the Chorus of Westerly is to harness the power of music to transform lives and nourish the soul of the community. For 60 years, we feel we have been able to do that through our core program of high-quality concerts for the public and the musical training program for the thousands of children and adults who have sung with us. Now, we want to expand on that. We want to provide another entry point and more access for people to learn music, appreciate music, and have their lives changed. We believe these programs can and will do that. We think this will be a great offering for our entire region. We hope parents will sign their kids up at school and those in the community who want to just come and sing and learn will join the Foundations Chorus. There is nothing to be afraid of and we know it will change their lives for the better.”

To sign-up for the Foundations Chorus or to get more information on either new program, residents should contact Genvieve Spitale at, by calling 401.596.8663, or come to the Chorus of Westerly office at 119 High Street (Kent Hall) in Westerly. 







The Chorus of Westerly

Founded in 1959 by George Kent and now conducted by Andrew Howell, The Chorus of Westerly has become one of the most acclaimed and impactful arts and community organizations in all of New England. In its 60 years, 2500 area residents (over 1200 of those as children) have sung with the Chorus. The Chorus has performed over 700 concerts in Westerly, Providence, New Haven, Boston, New York, and in Europe in eight countries as part of five international concert tours. Combined, the Chorus has performed before an audience of over 1.2 million people. The Chorus also owns and operates the historic George Kent Performance Hall, located at 119 High Street, Westerly, Rhode Island, and is in the middle of a $2 million renovation of the facility. Recent work has included a restored slate roof, a new HVAC system, restored historic entry points, and rehearsal space improvements. In the spring of 2020, the Chorus will begin work on a $500,000 restoration of its exterior cedar clapboards followed by new painting of the exterior nave, and structural integrity work of its bell tower.


The Chorus of Westerly is a certified, not-for-profit, charitable arts and community organization.





Press contact:
Michelle Pinto

Marketing and Development Coordinator

The Chorus of Westerly

119 High Street
Westerly, RI 02891
Tel: 401.596.8663

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