Artistic Director – George Kent
George Kent has devoted his life to raising the artistic standards not only of his home community Westerly but also of Rhode Island and New England as a whole. The Chorus of Westerly, which he founded in 1959, is now widely known as a Rhode Island performing organization of reliable artistic excellence. George Kent has always believed in the ability of young children to learn the great choral scores of music literature and since 1959 he has been teaching to youngsters age eight and over such works as the Bach B minor Mass, Handel’s Messiah, Benjamin Britten’s Spring Symphony, and Brahms’ incomparable Requiem. Generations of children have, with George Kent’s training, developed a lasting love of music.
During his tenure with the Chorus he directed over 2,500 singers spanning the ages of eight to eighty-eight, toured with the Chorus twice in Britain (1981 and 1995) and once in Italy (1987) and has performed in Providence and in Westerly. Mr. Kent has taught music at Rhode Island colleges and universities for over forty years. He served as Assistant Music Director and, in 1986, as Acting Music Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic and during that tenure performed the orchestra’s Young Person’s Concerts as well as the regular scheduled classical and Pops concerts. In September, 1988, he was awarded one of Rhode Island’s coveted Governor’s Arts Awards. In 1995 the Chorus of Westerly earned the A&BC’s Jabez Gorham Award for excellence in the arts. He has also received the Award for Excellence in Music from the South County Center for the Arts (1998), the Lifetime Achievement Award from Choral Arts, New England (1999) and the History Maker’s Salute Award from the R.I. Historical Society (2001). Mr. Kent received the Arts & Business Council of Rhode Island’s Award for Individual Achievement (2004) and was named a distinguished alumni by New England Conservatory (2003). In May 2006, Mr. Kent received the prestigious Pell Award. The Pell Awards honor Senator Claiborne Pell and recognize artistic excellence both in Rhode Island and nationally.
With the Chorus of Westerly George Kent has presented ten first United States performances of major 20th Century British works for chorus and orchestra. On three occasions the Chorus brought the composers of those works (in 1984, William Mathias, Lux Aeterna, and in 1990 Paul Patterson, Mass of the Sea and again in 2001, his Millennium Mass) to lecture on their music both in Westerly and at Brown University and the University of Rhode Island.
George Kent has also brought Britain’s most famous choral conductor, Sir David Willcocks, to the states and collaborated with him from 1990-2010 on the annual Choral Symposium held each summer at his music camp facility, Camp Ogontz, in Lyman, New Hampshire. This summer program has also included other sessions with Richard Marlow, Herbert Bock, James Litton, and, currently, David Hill.
George Kent has been Organist/Choirmaster at Christ Church, Westerly, since 1956 and, in May 1996, was awarded an honorary doctorate from New York’s General Theological Seminary for his outstanding contribution to church music in America.
Ogontz & the Foundation
While the business of the Foundation is conducted specifically on the Ogontz property, it is a separate entity from Ogontz Camp (Ogontz Event Center) which operates a catering and lodging business at the facility. The Foundation contracts Ogontz Event Center to provide all of the meals and lodging throughout the course of the annual Choral Workshop. For more information about Ogontz Camp & Event Center please visit campogontz.com. For more information about the activities of the Ogontz Arts Foundation, please email the Board President Aurea Davis.
Board of Directors
Aurea Davis – President
George Kent – Artistic Director
Susan Bosworth – Vice President
Daniel Connolly – Secretary