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TRENDER: Chorus of Westerly’s Andrew Howell

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Andrew Howell is delighted to be at the helm of the renowned Chorus of Westerly--a dream he's had since high school. Photo: Nan Young.

Who are the Rhode Islanders leading in arts, fashion, food, and style? They're Trenders, and GoLocalProv offers glimpses of the people you most want to know on the scene. Today, the newly hired music director of Rhode Island's beloved Westerly Chorus, Andrew Howell.

Local cred: Received BM in Music Education from URI in 2005 and an MM in Choral Conducting and Organ Performance from URI in 2007. Conductor of the University Chorus at URI since 2009 and taught Music Appreciation and Ear Training/Sight Singing at URI as well. Previously Organist and Choir Director at the Cathedral of St. John in Providence and at St. Francis Catholic Church in Wakefield. Lives in Bradford, RI with his wife Emily and three children, Sadie, Rowan and Henry.

You've just been appointed to take the helm one of Rhode Island's best-known and loved cultural institutions. How are you feeling about that?

I feel great! I was lucky enough to grow up in the Chorus of Westerly, so to be "at the helm" is a dream come true for me.

You are also remarkably young--you've just turned 30. Did you think you'd be at this position this soon in your career?

Well, I started to think about being the Music Director of the Chorus when I was in High School, but had no idea I would actually achieve that goal by this age (or at all, really). Most of my education and career choices had been aimed at the possibility that I might some day have a chance at continuing the work that George Kent did for so many years with this incredible organization. I just had my first concert with the Chorus on November 18th, and turned 30 the next day. Not a bad way to end my 20's!

What do you love, this far, about Westerly, and about this chorus?

The Chorus of Westerly has been an incredibly important part of my life for 17 years and the singers are basically a (very large) extended family to me. I have been thrilled by the response from the membership and how willing they are to work hard for me to continue to create exciting and dynamic music and even expand on the offerings and programming of the Chorus.

What do readers not know about the Chorus of Westerly that they should know?

The Chorus of Westerly has been around for 54 years and we are continuing to evolve and extend our reach into the community here in Rhode Island and also the greater choral world. Beyond our local offerings, we are currently planning a tour to Central Europe (Prague, Budapest, and Vienna) for late July of 2014, which is incredibly exciting since we have not taken an international tour since 1995!

What can we expect from this season's concert?

We have a busy season ahead of us, including our annual Christmas Pops concert on December 16th, A Celebration of Twelfth Night from January 11-13, a concert of American choral music on March 10, the Mozart Requiem on May 19, Summer Pops in Wilcox Park in Westerly on June 22, plus the King's Singers are coming to our Hall on February 10! Of particular note will be a world-premier of a five-movement work titled "Five New England Songs" by composer Peter Niedmann on our March 10 concert. (Tickets for all of these concerts can be purchased at www.chorusofwesterly.org or by calling the box office at 401-596-8663 during regular business hours.)

7. What's the next thing you want to try in Rhode Island, now that you're here?

Besides music, I would say my next passion is good food! There are still a lot of restaurants that my wife and I are looking forward to trying in RI, but it can be challenging getting out with three young kids at home.

Photo: Nan Young

Do you know a Trender? Let GoLocal know at news@golocalprov.com.


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