Encore Creativity for Older Adults and Encore Chorales

Organization Associated with Program
Encore Creativity for Older Adults
6208 West Shore Drive
Tracy's Landing, Maryland 20779

The Encore Chorale program is the nation's largest choral program for adults age 55+. The singers rehearse challenging choral repertoire from September through May. In December and May, the singers present large, free community concerts at high profile venues, including the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C. There are no auditions, and singers may be seated for rehearsals and performances.

There are 13 chorales with over 650 singers in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area, as well as affiliate Encore Chorales in Hudson OH, Reading PA, Salt Lake City UT and Sarasota FL, with additional affiliates in development.  Encore holds a summer choral institute at St. Mary's College of Maryland and a summer institute, featuring choral, movement and theatre tracks, at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State.  Encore “Singing at Sea” journeys have included Atlantic crossings, Caribbean cruises and European river cruises.  A river cruise from Budapest to Prague is scheduled for May 2014 and will include Encore Chorale performances in Vienna and Prague.

Program History

Jeanne Kelly founded Encore Creativity for Older Adults in 2007 and is Executive Director. Encore is dedicated to providing an excellent and accessible artistic environment for adults over 55 who seek arts education and performance opportunities under the direction of a professional artist, regardless of experience or ability. Encore offers participants the chance to be really challenged at an older age and perform in high profile venues. Encore also serves as a social outlet for participants, many of whom live alone and gain a sense of community engagement and mastery from the program.

Program Research and Key Findings

Jeanne Kelly was the director of the chorale program included in Dr. Gene Cohen’s study, “The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults.” Kelly was then director of the Levine School of Music in Arlington, Virginia. She had 150 singers participate in the study, plus 150 older adults in a control group. The study showed that older adults who studied the arts under a professional artist had fewer doctor visits, suffered fewer falls, took less medication, experienced higher morale and less depression, and enjoyed overall better health.

Program Assessments and Evaluations

Encore uses critiques to help choose repertoire, identify concert venues, and plan summer institutes. Singers are free to write any ideas they may have to strengthen or change Encore. Encore also uses multiple evaluation processes that are ongoing throughout the program, including interviews, individual assessments, attendance numbers, local and national press reviews, and evaluations by large and appreciative audiences.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Encore invites developing programs to get in touch with us to share ideas as we expand our reach to older adult singers across the country. Music programs should be led by the very best conductor available. He or she must possess excellent musical skills and vocal technique knowledge, have a good singing voice and strong piano skills, enjoy working with older adults, and have an abundance of patience. If you have the right conductor, your program will flourish. The high profile venue concerts have really set Encore apart. Strive to present large, free community concerts, and consider inviting visiting performers to work with your arts group.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Presenting a Performance, Attending a Performance, Participate in a Class, Participate in an Ensemble
Arts Discipline: Dance, Music, Theater
Interdisciplinary Connections: Civic Engagement, Education, Volunteerism
Target Audience: Active Adults
Adaptive Program Design Hearing Disabilities, Visual Disabilities, Mobility Disabilities
Program Setting: Arts Organization, Community Center
Program Service Area: Suburban, Urban
Type of Practice: Research Validated Best Practices