Pops and circumstance: Chorus of Westerly concert in the park is reset for Sunday night

Pops and circumstance: Chorus of Westerly concert in the park is reset for Sunday night

The Westerly Sun
reporter photo

WESTERLY — The Chorus of Westerly’s 38th Summer Pops in Wilcox Park has been rescheduled for tonight due to adverse weather conditions yesterday. 

The pre-show will start at 6:15 p.m. and main show will at 8 p.m. At the end of the concert, fireworks will launch at about 9:30 p.m. 

It was a difficult decision to postpone but safety was the top priority, said Ryan Saunders, executive director of the Chorus of Westerly, Saturday. 

“With the weather forecasts calling for possible rain on and off all day with very cool temperatures, it is just seemed too risky to try offering the concert today,” he said. “Plus, with some severe weather possible later, we wanted to make sure everything remained safe and comfortable for the audience and performers.”

Tonight’s pre-show will include the Westerly High School Band, the Westerly Morris Men and the Beach Band. The main show will feature nearly 300 performers, including the Chorus of Westerly and the Pops Festival Orchestra with guest Roderick MacDonald, former principal trumpet of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

Tonight’s conductor will be Andrew Howell, the Marion and Bill Palm music director of the Chorus of Westerly. The musical selections range from “West Side Story” to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” The program will conclude with Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” complete with cannons from the Newport Artillery, and Fireworks by Grucci, of Bellport, New York. 

The event costs about $90,000 to produce and postponing it costs just under $10,000 to keep the technical and production staff for an additional day, Saunders said. 

“We are hopeful our audience members will consider making donation to one of our donation buckets in the park to help us with the costs of the event,” Saunders said. “This year with the delay, their support will be more important than ever.” 

Historically, seven of the 38 pops have been postponed due to weather and moved to Sunday, and two were pushed to Monday. 

Watching the forecast is key because if it rains after the concert begins, the whole event comes to a halt, Saunders said. 

“Once the concert starts, if it rains even two or three drips, the concert has to end,” he said. “It’s a professional union orchestra and once it starts raining they’re done and we don’t have the funding to make it up another time so we’re very careful to pick a time when there’s not going to be a disruption.” 

Soggy blankets notwithstanding, the forecast hasn’t stopped concert fans from staking out their traditional spots in the park on Saturday, Saunders said. 

“Actually we’ve had a very positive response. There were certainly a lot people bringing blankets into the park Saturday morning, understanding that they’re probably going to have to bring in a dry one to replace it tomorrow, but it’s not slowing people down,” he said. “At the end of the day we’re trying to present the best artistic and community event possible.”  

For updates on tonight’s concert, check the Chorus of Westerly on Facebook, Twitter or westerlypops.org. If tonight is rained out, the concert will be rescheduled for Monday.

chewitt@thewesterlysun.com


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