A Wonderful Weekend: A Celebration of Music Despite the Rain

2 Minute Read

This past weekend in Westerly, Rhode Island, the community came together for a celebration of music and resilience. Despite a forecast filled with thunderstorms and rain, the 43rd annual Summer Pops concert, organized by the Chorus of Westerly, went off without a hitch—albeit a day later than planned. The weather may have been unpredictable, but the spirit of the event shone brightly, culminating in a magical Sunday evening performance.

The original Saturday date was met with heavy thunderstorms that forced organizers to utilize their one and only rain date. Undeterred by the delay, the Chorus of Westerly, led by Music Director Andrew Howell, delivered an unforgettable performance. This year’s concert featured Broadway star Adam Jacobs, best known for originating the role of Aladdin and currently starring in The Who's Tommy at the Nederlander Theater. Jacobs captivated the audience with a Disney medley, expertly arranged by the Chorus's resident composer and arranger, John Tafone, a prominent New York City composer.

The 200-voice Chorus of Westerly was accompanied by the Boston Festival Orchestra, a group of distinguished musicians from across New England. The ensemble’s harmonious blend of voices and instruments resonated through Downtown Westerly's Wilcox Park, leaving an indelible mark on the 25,000 attendees who gathered to witness this annual spectacle.

Andrew Howell, in his 11th Summer Pops as Music Director, has been a lifelong member of the Chorus and took over from founder George Kent in 2012. Under Howell's leadership, the Chorus has flourished, continuing its tradition of excellence and embarking on international tours. This summer, Howell and the Chorus are preparing for their third European tour under his direction.

Executive Director Ryan Saunders and the entire Chorus staff deserve immense credit for their hard work and dedication. The coordination required to organize such a massive event is no small feat, especially when faced with the unpredictability of New England weather. Their efforts ensured that the community could still enjoy a night of exceptional music, regardless of the rain.

Founded in 1959 by George Kent, the Chorus of Westerly is a unique community chorus that includes members ranging in age from 8 to over 80. This intergenerational ensemble is the only one of its kind in the United States, reflecting a commitment to music, education, and community that has made it a regional and national treasure. Their performances and tours continue to inspire and connect people through the shared love of music.

The 43rd annual Summer Pops concert was more than just a performance; it was a testament to the power of community, resilience, and the unifying force of music. Despite the rain, Westerly residents and visitors alike experienced a weekend filled with joy, harmony, and a bit of Broadway magic, reminding us all of the beauty that can be found even in the stormiest of times.


Photo credit: Chris Walsh 

Ben Barber

Ben Barber

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