Life-Long Choirs

About the Chairperson

Chairperson: Jeanne Kelly

Jeanne Kelly is the Founder and Artistic Director of the nonprofit organization, Encore Creativity for Older Adults, dedicated to providing an excellent, accessible, and sustainable artistic environment for older adults over 55 years of age, either beginning, intermediate or advanced levels, who seek arts education and performance opportunities under a professional artist.

After a successful career as an opera and oratorio singer, Ms. Kelly began to apply her expertise in vocal technique to benefit students ranging from those preparing for professional vocal careers to those who simply enjoy music as a hobby. Ms. Kelly has served on the faculties of the Baltimore School for the Arts; Hood College in Frederick, MD; the United States Naval Academy and the Levine School of Music in Washington, DC. Ms. Kelly has also conducted workshops for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

Jeanne Kelly was the first director of Levine School of Music, Arlington Campus, where she had more than 700 students from eighteen months to 97 years of age.

While at Levine, Ms. Kelly was asked by Dr. Gene Cohen, director of the George Washington University Center of Aging, Health and Humanities, to create three Senior Singers’ Chorales to be involved in a three- year study “Creativity and Aging: The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults.” The National Endowment for the Arts was the lead sponsor of this study, which showed a positive impact of participatory art programs for older adults. The singers showed overall improved health, fewer doctor visits, less medications, fewer falls, less loneliness and higher morale. They also showed a reduction of risk factors driving the need for long-term care.  With an average age of 80 years old, these 120 singers were featured in over four hundred newspapers nationally and internationally, and were featured on CBS Evening News with Dan Rather.

Prompted by the success of the Creativity and Aging study, Ms. Kelly founded the non-profit organization, Encore Creativity for Older Adults, in 2007. Starting with 3 chorales and 120 singers in 2007, the program has grown to become the nation’s largest choral program for older adults, with 16 Encore Chorales and 6 Encore ROCKS rock n roll choruses in the Baltimore/Washington DC area, as well as New York City, serving more than 1,200 singers, plus an affiliate network of Encore chorales around the country. Singers participate in Fall and Spring sessions of 15 weekly rehearsals followed by free public concerts in high profile concert halls, including the Kennedy Center.  Encore also sponsors three 5-day choral institutes each summer – one at Washington College in Chestertown MD and one at the famed Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua NY – to offer singers an intensive choral learning experience. New this year is a Rock & Roll Camp in Annapolis, MD in August.

Encore also performs internationally, with annual concert tours to Europe and, most recently, Canada.