The Chorus of Westerly, in Rhode Island, was founded in 1959 by George Kent, who continues to direct the choir and also possesses the excellent distinction of having their performance hall named after him while he is still able to enjoy the honor! The hall has been praised by such diverse artists as Yo-Yo Ma and Pete Seeger for its peerless acoutstics. The Chorus of Westerly has built a reputation as one of New England’s finest choral groups and hosted the MDR KinderChor of Leipzig in February, 2007.
In 1993, after using the site to produce a one-week summer choir camp for 26 years, Mr. Kent and his wife, Lynn, purchased the venerable 300-acre grounds of a very old former girls’ summer camp — Camp Ogontz (near Lisbon) in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Through the generosity of the Kents and volunteers of two choirs in Westerly, Rhode Island, Christ Church and its sister group, the Chorus of Westerly, in pulling Camp Ogontz from the brink of ruin and development, The Chorus of Westerly is today able to sponsor an annual summer choral Symposia at the Camp which always includes stellar guest choral conductors to educate the lucky directors and singers in attendance, illuminating the ancient art of group song, one of the oldest Western art forms.
This year’s meeting will run from July 7 through the 20, 2007, inclusive. Two of the world’s finest choral directors, both from England and both with long affiliations with Cambridge University, will be participating in the Symposia. For the first week, July 7-13, the esteemed guest director will be Dr. Richard Marlow, renowned choral director and fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, since 1968. Dr. Marlow has a long and significant career, including an extensive discography, many of the recordings being of his direction of the Choir of Trinity College. For the second week of the meeting, July 14-20, Sir David Willcocks, organist, conductor and Music Director Emeritus of King’s College Choir, Cambridge, will grace Ogontz. Sir David has an even longer career than Dr. Marlow, having begun his musical journey as a chorister at Westminster Abbey, from 1929 to 1934! He has been an organist and choral director at some of the most prestigious cathedrals in England, was Director of the London Bach Choir from 1960 to 1998, was Director of the Royal College of Music in London from 1974 to 1984 and was knighted in 1977. Sir David has conducted all over the world and is frequently a guest on the podium in the United States.
The Chorus of Westerly Summer Symposium provides an opportunity for singers and choral conductors from the U.S. and Canada to come together to rehearse, learn, and perform with these giants of choral leadership and, if possible, to even relax in the peaceful atmosphere of the White Mountains.
If at all possible, plan to attend the Chorus of Westerly Camp Ogontz Symposium this summer. The opportunity to be in such close working proximity to Dr. Marlow and Sir David Willcocks is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For more information, you can visit the Camp Ogontz website, www.campogontz.com and view the FAQs. For more information, you can e-mail [email protected] or call co-owner Lynn Kent at 603-838-5568 and obtain details. M.L.?