Annapolis, MD— August 16, 2021 — Nearly 15 years ago, Jeanne Kelly began with an idea, while sitting at her dining room table. Today, that concept, Encore Creativity for Older Adults, has grown into the nation’s largest nonprofit choral arts organization for older adults. As founder and Artistic Director, Kelly has shepherded Encore to a level that has exceeded even her own expectations. Now, having created an incredible legacy, she has decided it is the time to retire.
“I believe in the power of music to make a better world. So, it is with great sadness and joy that I announce my retirement as Artistic Director of Encore Creativity for Older Adults,” stated Kelly. “Encore has been the pinnacle of my career and has created so many fabulous memories.”
Under Kelly’s leadership with support from her husband Larry Kelly, Encore has grown to 22 local chorales across Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, and New York; plus, affiliates in Hudson, Ohio; Littleton and Highland Park, Colorado and Santa Clarita, California. An estimated 2000 singers participate in this artistic enrichment program. Highlights of the past years include concert tours that have taken chorales to locations in Europe, including Bath, England; the Czech Republic; Vienna, Austria; and Rouen, France; as well as Cuba, Canada and more. These trips helped to forge international friendships and made lasting musical reminiscences. Other high points have included concerts in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall; and summer camps at St. Johns College, Annapolis, Maryland; Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland; and the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, New York. Kelly and faculty members always stressed excellence with a goal to present older adult singers in the highest standards. Even with the impact of Covid Encore stayed focus, creating Encore University, an online program that allowed older adults across the country to be engaged and continue learning throughout the lockdown.
Encore’s Board of Directors recognizes and praises Kelly for her accomplishments. “ We want to begin by thanking Jeanne for years of dedication in founding and building Encore,” says Anthony Tambasco, Board President. “Those of us who have enjoyed Encore Chorale knew this day would be coming, but Jeanne and her husband Larry have left us a solid and enduring inheritance. As they pass the torch, let us have a year of gratitude during the transition, showing appreciation for the tireless and total dedication of both Jeanne and Larry.”
Though leaving her position as Artistic Director, Kelly will remain as conductor for four of the current chorales. She will also play a large role at the annual Kennedy Center Concert in December, and will be integral to the 15th Anniversary celebration, being held at the Music Center at Strathmore in May 2022. In the coming months, she will be training a new Artistic Director and the newly created position of CEO.
As Kelly shares with a smile, “I won’t totally disappear; I simply will not be running the show.”
The Encore organization will be evolving over the next year with new staff to continue its deep history of arts enrichment. Hires joining the organization this fall will be announced in the coming weeks.
“Our singers and the community will learn of future plans and goals, through a gradual presentation of the superb leaders, who have been hired to succeed Jeanne and Larry,” added Tambasco.
As Kelly eases into retirement, her heart is with the singers. “To the singers, I just want to say thank you for the beautiful music you have given to me and our community. Without you and your beautiful voices, Encore would not exist,” Jeanne stated. “Also, to all of our donors, sponsors, and supporters, I thank you all for helping to make Encore the grand organization that it is. ”
Still, with change, the mission and work of Encore will continue. As is Kelly’s trademark response in correspondence, Encore will “Sing On.”