The Foundations Chorus
A Choral Training Program of the Chorus of Westerly for Adults
In February of 2020, the Chorus of Westerly launched a second choral ensemble for adults, the Foundations Chorus. The Foundations Chorus is open to absolutely anyone to participate in regardless of your ability to sing, your background in music or your musical training. This is open to all and WE WANT YOU TO JOIN!
The Foundations Chorus is a non-auditioned ensemble open to anyone regardless of your musical background, training, or ability, even your ability or talent to sing. Anyone can be a member.
The Foundations Chorus and its members are officially part of the Chorus of Westerly organization. You will be a singing "member" of the Chorus family, but you will be a member of the Foundations program specifically and not our main symphonic performance chorus (the auditioned ensemble - and you can audition for that program if you wish, call 401.596.8663 for more details).
If you are currently a member of the symphonic chorus you CAN sing in Foundations as well.
How is this different from the symphonic chorus?
First, the symphonic chorus requires adults to pass a musical audition. The symphonic chorus will sing all the regular ticketed performances and Pops concerts of the Chorus of Westerly's season as normal. There is a certain level of commitment, ability, and demands associated with that ensemble which are a bit more demanding musically and in terms of time. Children and teens will continue to be a part of that ensemble arm of the Chorus. The Foundations Chorus does not require an audition and its purposes are different from the main chorus. First, the Foundations Chorus serves as an outlet for all those who wish to make quality music with a community of singers. Secondly, it provides a rehearsal pace that gives singers of varying abilities the time to learn repertoire and grow as musicians. And, finally, it serves 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 does not perform as part of the Chorus of Westerly’s main performances or as part of the regular concert season, but instead has their own informal concert at the end of each semester.
Foundations Chorus Semesters
The Foundations Chorus ensemble typically rehearses at the George Kent Performance Hall on Wednesday evenings, 7 pm to 8:30 pm. The Fall Semester will begin in September and run through the first or second week of December with another performance on the final Wednesday evening of that term. The performances will be free and open to all. The Foundations Chorus will be offered in similar semesters each year, one in the Late Winter/Spring and one in the Fall.
We will expect you at as many rehearsals as you can attend. It is as much about learning music as it is singing and performing it, so missing rehearsals is not ideal. That said, attendance policies will be a little easier than the main auditioned performance ensemble.
Registration and Cost
All Chorus of Westerly members pay dues to participate in our programs (regardless of ensemble or age). Dues for the Foundations Chorus will typically be $100 per semester. Financial aid and payment plans can be discussed on a case by case basis, but there are limited funds.
To register call 401.596.8663 and speak with Genvieve Spitale. She will take basic information to you and then send or email you a formal registration form. You can then bring payment in to the Chorus, pay with your credit card over the phone, or mail your check to the Chorus of Westerly at 119 High Street, Westerly, RI. You can also email Genvieve Spitale at email@example.com. Please send to her your name, telephone number she can reach you at, address, and what you think your voice part might be (if you do not know, that is perfectly okay, we can help you figure that out later). She will then get back in touch with you via email or phone and ensure you get a registration form. Finally, you can also come in to the George Kent Performance Hall.
Who directs the Foundations Chorus?
To begin the program, our assistant conductor Kathryn Aaron (see below) will be co-directing the ensemble in each rehearsal with our music director, Andrew Howell. Rehearsals will consist of not only time to sing but also time to learn some basic music fundamentals at a speed appropriate to the group assembled. Kathryn and Andrew both run wonderful rehearsals and are very skilled at training singers of all abilities. They are ready to teach you!!
More about Kathryn Aaron
Andrew Howell, the Marion and Bill Palm Music Director of the Chorus of Westerly, and the Chorus of Westerly leadership team conducted a national search for a new Assistant Conductor to help lead this and other new programs. After an extensive search process, the organization has appointed Kathryn Aaron, of Niantic, Connecticut as our 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.”
If you have more questions on the Foundations Chorus feel free to email any of our artistic staff members.
Andrew Howell -
Kathryn Aaron -
Genvieve Spitale -
You can also call and speak with Genvieve on weekdays during business hours - 401.596.8663.