Congratulations to Andrew and to The Chorus of Westerly for this important announcement!
THE CHORUS OF WESTERLY APPOINTS ANDREW HOWELL AS ITS SECOND MUSIC DIRECTOR
Howell to succeed Founding Music Director George Kent on July 1
WESTERLY, RHODE ISLAND – By unanimous decision, the Board of Directors of the Chorus of Westerly has appointed Andrew Howell as the acclaimed music ensemble’s second music director. Howell, a former child and teenage member of the Chorus of Westerly, will succeed founding music director George Kent beginning on July 1, 2012. Kent is retiring from the Chorus in June after 53 seasons as music director.
A native of Rhode Island, Howell is currently on the faculty of the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Music and serves as director of the URI University Chorus. Howell is also organist and choirmaster at St. James Episcopal Church in New London, Connecticut, where he directs the adult choir, the choral scholars program, and the Music at St. James Concert Series. During the summer months, Howell serves as music director and organist at the Watch Hill Chapel. In 2009, Howell founded the Eastern Connecticut Children’s Chorus with Francis Ferrall for children ages 8 to 16.
“I am absolutely thrilled that Andrew Howell has accepted the position and will be joining us as our next music director,” states Daniel Van Winkle, president of the Chorus. “After a very thoughtful and extensive search process, as well as a very intense audition process, it was crystal clear that Andrew Howell is the right person to be our next music director. His energy, talent, and ability will be a catalyst for the Chorus of Westerly’s future success. He is a dynamic individual and wonderful conductor who will lead us toward an exciting future.”
A selection committee comprised of current Chorus singers, board members, and parents began a national search last July following George Kent’s retirement announcement in June. Applicants for the position came from all over the United States and Canada. After months of careful screening and preliminary interviews, finalists for the position were brought in last month to work with Chorus of Westerly singers in a grand four-day stretch of music making. George Kent and Ryan Saunders, executive director of the Chorus, served as advising members of the selection committee.
Howell’s roots with the Chorus of Westerly are quite deep. He joined the Chorus at the age of twelve singing first as a treble (boy soprano) and later as a tenor through his graduation from Westerly High School. Howell returned to the Chorus during his collegiate years and has continued to sing with the group for the past several seasons. Recently, Howell has served on the Chorus of Westerly’s Board of Directors and has co-chaired the Children’s Committee with his wife, Emily (another former Chorus child singer). Howell and his wife live in Westerly with their daughters Sadie and Rowan and their one-week old son Henry.
“I am incredibly excited and energized by Andrew Howell’s appointment,” exclaims Ryan Saunders, executive director of the Chorus (and also a former Chorus child singer). “He is an exceptionally talented musician and will help us reach amazing new levels as an organization. The sky is the limit.”
The tale of a former Chorus treble rising to become the organization’s second music director is something Saunders reflects on proudly. “What a wonderful success story Andrew is for not just the Chorus but our entire town. To think that a local kid with no musical background can join this Chorus, meet George Kent, fall in love with and be inspired by the music, go on to study it in college, build a great career, and acquire the skills to be able to become music director of the Chorus of Westerly. That is something very special. Andrew is in many ways validation of the work, vision, and love George Kent has given this organization, this town, and so many area children. Andrew’s tenure and style as music director will certainly be different that Mr. Kent’s, but he knows the critical importance of continuing Kent’s amazing vision because he has lived it.”
Howell will become music director officially on July 1, 2012 and will begin conducting rehearsals and concerts for the Chorus beginning in the September of 2012 as the Chorus of Westerly begins its 54th concert season. Howell’s title until that time will be Music Director Designate. Kent will continue as music director of the Chorus of Westerly through Summer Pops 2012 scheduled to take place June 23, 2012 (with rain dates June 24 and June 25). Kent’s final Chorus concert will be Summer Pops and his final regular season indoor concert (in Kent Hall) will be two performances of the Brahms Requiem on May 20, 2012. Tickets for the Brahms performance are available at chorusofwesterly.org.