Last weekend the Chorus of Westerly and 20,000 of our closest friends got together for the 34th annual Supper Pops. Now, for all of us Westerly regulars, the Summer Pops is like an old friend that signifies the beginning of summer in our community. Every June we spread out our blankets at Wilcox Park for an evening of music, fireworks, and some cannon fire. I personally have been going to the Pops for as long as I can remember: my family even has their regular spot (right aisle in front of the second tree). I thought I knew all about what Summer Pops was; little did I know how much really goes in to making Summer Pops happen every year.
For the last year I have had the pleasure of being a part of the amazing organization that is the Chorus of Westerly. Experiencing first hand all the work that goes into this spectacular event was eye-opening. For Summer Pops alone it takes countless hours to not only prepare musically, but also physically and financially. Members of the Chorus volunteer their time to build the stage in Wilcox Park the weekend before Pops and then again to disassemble the stage right after Pops has finished, working into the late hours of the evening and finally coming back the next morning to finish the task. All of this is volunteer work in addition to the rehearsals required to make the music you hear sound incredible. We work year round to raise money so we can bring not only Summer Pops to the community but an entire season of events. Being a part of this organization has affected my life in so many positive ways I never anticipated. The Chorus has brought me new friends, new culture, and a new passion.
As one of the facilitators of a bond to be placed on the Rhode Island Voting ballot this November 2014, they hope to continue to provide beautiful music to the community for years to come. Created by the Rhode Island Coalition for Performing Arts Facilities this bond will be up for vote in November. If it passes, the Chorus of Westerly would be receiving funds that would be vitally important in not only maintain the Chorus as an organization, but it will also help us make some much needed updates to our home, the George Kent Performance Hall. I wish to support the arts in Rhode Island and the great institution that is the Chorus of Westerly; therefore come November I will be voting to pass the bond referendum.
All of this is important for me to share with the community because as an observer of the Chorus for my entire life I always knew it was important to our town, but now I understand why. The people of the Chorus and what they do there is vitally important to all of us. In a time where focus on the arts has dwindled, they have survived and thrived making Westerly a hub for musical culture.
Kirsten A Johnson