Westminster Choir College
|Westminster Choir College|
(Let us be judged by our deeds)
|Dean||Robert L. Annis|
|Location||Princeton, New Jersey, United States|
|Campus||Suburban, 23 acres (93,000 m²)
(Princeton Borough and Township)
|Colors||Purple and Gold|
|Website||Westminster Choir College|
Westminster Choir College educates men and women at the undergraduate and graduate levels for musical careers in music education, voice performance, piano performance, organ performance, pedagogy, music theory and composition, conducting, sacred music, and arts management; professional training in musical skills with an emphasis on performance is complemented by studies in the liberal arts. All students study with Westminster's acclaimed voice faculty, the largest voice faculty in the world. Westminster's proximity to New York City and Philadelphia provides students with easy access to the musical resources of both cities.
1920-1932: Presbyterian beginnings to the creation of a college 
John Finley Williamson founded the Westminster Choir in 1920 at the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Dayton, Ohio. Convinced that professionally trained musicians could best serve the church, he established the Westminster Choir School in September 1926 with sixty students and a faculty of ten. As the Choir School and its choir's reputation grew, the demand for the School's graduates increased. The graduates came to be known as Ministers of Music, a term coined by Dr. Williamson and still being used today by many church music programs.
As early as 1922, the Choir, then known as the Dayton Westminster Choir, began touring the United States annually and sang in such prominent places as Carnegie Hall (New York City), Symphony Hall (Boston), the Academy of Music (Philadelphia), Orchestra Hall (Chicago) and the White House for President Calvin Coolidge. Years later the Choir also sang for Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Westminster Choir made its first commercial recording with RCA Victor in 1926. Subsequently the Choir recorded with major conductors and orchestras.
In 1928, the Westminster Choir and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski made the nation's first coast-to-coast radio broadcast on Cincinnati station WLW. A few years later because of the Choir's growing reputation it made a total of 60 half-hour broadcasts from NBC's New York facilities.
The first European tour took place in 1929 and was sponsored by Dayton, Ohio philanthropist Katharine Houk Talbott and endorsed by Walter Damrosch, conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra. The tour included 26 concerts in major cities of Europe.
Originally a three-year program, the Choir School moved to Ithaca College in New York State in 1929 and enlarged its curriculum to a four-year program culminating in a Bachelor of Music degree. A major reason for the move involved the need to be able to reach the major cities of Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York by rail. All three were cities that sought the choirs under Williamson. This move ultimately proved unsatisfactory.
1932-1991: Independent music school in Princeton 
In 1932, the Choir School relocated to Princeton, New Jersey which became its permanent home. Classes were held in the First Presbyterian Church and the Princeton Seminary until 1934 when the Choir School moved to its present campus. This was made possible by a large gift from the philanthropist Sophia Strong Taylor. The dedication of the new campus was marked by a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's Mass in B minor at the Princeton University Chapel with the Westminster Choir, soloists, and the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Because of his high regard for the Choir, the services of the soloists, orchestra, and conductor were a gift from Stokowski.
There was a second European Choir tour in 1934 lasting nine weeks and highlighted by a live radio broadcast from Russia to the United States. In the fourteen short years since its founding in 1920, the Choir already had two European tours which earned it international acclaim and a campus of its own. The State of New Jersey in 1939 granted the Choir School accreditation and the name Westminster Choir College was adopted.
In years to come, under Williamson's leadership, the Choir would begin having regular concerts with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. The Westminster Choir sang with the New York Philharmonic for the first time in 1939 conducted by Sir John Barbirolli. Since that time the Choir has sung over three hundred performances with the Philharmonic, a record number for a single choir to perform with an orchestra. Later that year the Choir sang with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Arturo Toscanini. That same year the Choir, directed by Williamson, sang at the dedication of the New York World's Fair which was broadcast to fifty-three countries.
In 1957, under the auspices of the U.S. State Department Cultural Exchange Program, the Choir undertook a five month world tour, concertizing in twenty-two countries, covering 40,000 miles (64,000 km) and appearing before approximately a quarter of a million people.
Williamson retired as President of Westminster Choir College in 1958. Dr. Williamson's "retirement" consisted of conducting choral clinics and vocal festivals throughout the United States, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. A South American choir tour was being planned by the State Department but was cancelled because of Williamson's untimely death in 1964. In accordance with his request Dr. Williamson's ashes were scattered on the Quadrangle of his beloved campus on July 3, 1964. This turned out to be a myth perpetuated by many a faculty member. (Dr. Williamson's daughter corrected this notion by explaining that his ashes were scattered on the eastern side of the campus near the evergreen trees.) Recently, however an alumna corrected Miss Williamson's recollection by stating that she was there when Dr. Williamson's ashes were scattered on the Quadrangle. Dramatically the story went, this was said to have taken place during the performance of the Verdi Requiem with the Westminster Festival Choir, soloists, and the Festival Orchestra conducted by Maestro Eugene Ormandy. This performance on the Westminster campus was part of the Tercentennial Celebration of the State of New Jersey. The following day a memorial service for Dr. Williamson was held in the College Chapel.
In 1976, the Choir College celebrated its fiftieth anniversary highlighted by a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Shaw, alumni soloists, and the Westminster Alumni Choir on the Princeton University campus. Despite a promising future at the fiftieth anniversary, Westminster soon began to see its future and prospects for continued existence threatened. Facilities on the campus were placed into disrepair, and Erdman Hall was ultimately condemned and unfit for use. Recognizing that the College could not continue in this path, Westminster was forced with two options, either finding a larger university to merge with or closure.
1991-Present: Merger with Rider University 
Despite the financial troubles several schools such as Drew University, Yale University, and The Juilliard School all had an interest in purchasing Westminster Choir College. However, the desire of Westminster to remain in its historic albeit dilapidated campus resulted in the College pursuing an arrangement with then-Rider College. In 1992, following a year of affiliation, then-Rider College merged with Westminster Choir College and the music school became a part of the newly created Rider University. Despite promises that Rider would maintain the Westminster Choir College campus in Princeton a mere two years later, Rider University President J. Barton Luedeke began exploring a move which would relocate the Choir College campus to Lawrenceville, New Jersey to be with the rest of Rider University. By 1996, the Choir College appeared to have a vibrant fiscal future in Princeton, operating in the black, thanks to increased enrollment and donations. Thanks to this optimistic era, one year later Erdman Hall was renovated, restored, and reopened as "The Presser Music Center at Erdman Hall" featuring teaching studios, a keyboard laboratory, Voice Library & Resource Center, and new classroom space.
Despite the optimistic future in the 90s, by the early 2000s Rider University determined Westminster Choir College either must create an even stronger fiscal future or face closure. Looking for a way to control costs and more effectively create synergies between the two campuses of Rider University (Westminster's and the main campus), in November 2007, Rider University President Rozanski announced the creation of the Westminster College of the Arts. Westminster College of the Arts was envisioned to more successfully integrate Rider & Westminster, and create a new culture and environment of artistic excellence on both campuses. Westminster Choir College continues to educate Westminster College of the Arts students in the fields of Piano, Composition, Voice, Organ, Choral Conducting, Sacred Music, and Music Education. The newly formed School of Fine & Performing Arts serves as the gateway to receiving a degree in Musical Theatre, Arts Administration, and Music, as well as a non-professional degree (B.A. in Fine Arts) in music, dance, and theater. The creation of Westminster College of the Arts sparked heated debate between administrators and students, alumni and faculty that highlighted the divide between Rider's Princeton and Lawrenceville campuses. Rider University continues to strive for unity between the two campuses while preserving the integrity and unique history of Westminster Choir College.
As Westminster Choir College enters the twenty-first century the college is looking towards the future more than ever before. In the early-mid 2000s the school unveiled an ambitious master-plan calling for a new building and other upgrades, the first to be created on the campus since the College was placed under Rider University's stewardship. The Choir College also entered a cooperative agreement with the Princeton Regional Schools which allows for up to 40 Westminster performances a year to occur in their newly created Regional Performing Arts Center, heavily alleviating the struggle the Princeton Campus had by having no dedicated, large performance space on the campus. Enrollment in the college is becoming increasingly selective, with approximately one in four of the auditioning students matriculating into the campus each fall.[clarification needed]
Grammy Awards 
- Dvorák: Requiem; Symphony No.9 "From the New World", 2000
- Berlioz: Romeo & Juliet, 1986
- Barber: Anthony & Cleopatra, 1983
- The Westminster Symphonic Choir
- C. Badea and the Spoleto Festival Orchestra
- New World Records
Symphonic performances 
The Westminster Symphonic Choir has performed with many major orchestras and conductors including: New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. The Symphonic Choir, under the direction of Westminster's Director of Choral Activities, has sung at individual performances of large orchestral/choral works with professional orchestras conducted by Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, Eugene Ormandy, William Steinberg, Leopold Stokowski, Arturo Toscanini, and Bruno Walter, and such contemporary figures as Pierre Boulez, Mariss Jansons, Erich Leinsdorf, James Levine, Zdeněk Mácal, Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel, Michael Tilson Thomas, Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado, Seiji Ozawa, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Robert Shaw, Zubin Mehta, Albert Wolff, and Rafael Frübeck de Burgos. The choir has also received numerous invitations over the years to sing with such touring orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Berlin State Opera Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw, and the Vienna Philharmonic when these orchestras have come to perform in New York and Philadelphia.
In the Fall of 2010, Westminster Symphonic Choir performed with Jacques Lacombe and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in a series of concerts of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The Symphonic Choir also appeared with the Dresden Staatskapelle in performances of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem in Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and New York City's Avery Fisher Hall.
Notable past and present faculty 
- Robert L. Annis, Dean of Westminster Choir College of Rider University since 1992
- Dalton Baldwin, Adjunct Professor Emerita of Piano and Voice, since 1948
- Ingrid Clarfield, Professor and Coordinator of the Piano Department
- Ken Cowan, Coordinator of Organ and Sacred Music, 2003-2012
- Margaret Cusack, Chair and Professor of the Piano and Voice Department
- Elem Eley, Professor of Voice since 1987
- Faith Esham, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Voice since 2000
- Joseph Flummerfelt, former Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, 1971 - 2004
- James Jordan, Professor of Choral Music and Senior Conductor since 1991
- Joe Miller, Director of Choral Activities, since 2006
- Alan Morrison, Associate Professor and Chair of the Organ Departments at both Wesminster and The Curtis Institute of Music
- Laura Brooks Rice, Professor of Voice since 1985
- Sharon Sweet, Associate Professor of Voice since 1999
- John Finley Williamson, Founder and influential choral conductor. Deceased.
Honorary doctorates and fellows 
- Leonard Bernstein, American conductor and composer
- Sir Arthur Bliss, British composer
- Dave Brubeck, American jazz musician (Honorary Fellow, 2011)
- Peter J. Gomes, Professor of Christian Morals, Harvard University
- Gerre Hancock, American composer, improviser, organist
- Bob Hope, American entertainer
- Jennifer Larmore, American opera singer
- Morten Lauridsen, composer of choral music
- James Litton, American choral conductor, American Boychoir
- Zdeněk Mácal, Czech conductor
- Warren Martin, composer, former conductor of the Symphonic and Westminster Choirs
- Kurt Masur, Director of Music Emeritus, New York Philharmonic
- William Mathias, Welsh composer
- Zubin Mehta, Indian conductor
- Sherrill Milnes, American opera singer
- Riccardo Muti, Italian conductor
- Alice Parker, American composer/choral conductor
- Stephen Paulus, American composer
- David Robertson, American conductor
- Fred Rogers, American educator, minister, and children's TV host
- John Rutter, English composer and choral conductor
- Wolfgang Sawallisch, German conductor/pianist
- Robert Shaw, American conductor
- William Steinberg, German conductor
- Leopold Stokowski, American conductor
- Sir David Willcocks, English composer, choral conductor and organist
Notable alumni & former students 
- E. Wayne Abercrombie, conductor and Professor Emeritus at University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Adele Addison, African American lyric soprano
- Amy Anderson, stand-up comedian, actor, and writer
- Jennifer Aylmer, operatic soprano noted for performances with the Metropolitan Opera
- Pamela Baird, former actress, best known for her role on Leave It to Beaver
- Jean Ashworth Bartle, Canadian choral conductor, Founder of the Toronto Children's Chorus
- Melissa Citro, internationally acclaimed soprano
- Jeffrey Cornelius, choral conductor and former dean of Temple University’s Boyer College of Music
- Marvin V. Curtis, composer, choral director, and dean of Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts at Indiana University South Bend
- Scott Dettra, organist, Washington National Cathedral
- Greg Funfgeld, conductor of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and The Bach Festival Orchestra of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
- Paul D. Head, Director of Choral Studies at University of Delaware
- Elsie Hillman, Republican philanthropist
- Helen Kemp, world-renowned children's choir clinician
- Jennifer Larmore, internationally renowned mezzo-soprano
- Joan Lippincott, concert organ virtuoso, former head of the organ department at Westminster Choir College
- James Litton, American choral conductor, American Boychoir
- George Lynn, conductor, organist, and music educator
- Laquita Mitchell, operatic soprano
- Warren Martin, composer and conductor of classical music
- Ron Melrose, Nationally known Broadway conductor and composer
- Donald Nally, conductor and opera chorus master, Chicago Lyric Opera
- Eric Nelson, Director of Choral Studies at Emory University
- Yannick Nézet-Séguin, French Canadian conductor, Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra
- Rebecca Oswald, award-winning American composer & solo pianist
- Julia Perry, neoclassical composer and conductor
- Gail Leven Pollock, American composer and musician
- Rosephanye Powell, singer, musicologist, and composer
- William C. Powell, Director of Choral Activities at Auburn University
- Anwar Robinson, finalist on American Idol
- Alfredo Silipigni, opera conductor, founder of the New Jersey State Opera
- Michael Sylvester, internationally acclaimed tenor
- Linda Tedford, Director of Choral Activities at Messiah College, Founder & Conductor of the renowned Susquehanna Chorale
- Olav Anton Thommessen, Norwegian composer and professor of composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music
- Erica Washburn, Director of Choral Activities at the New England Conservatory
See also 
- Ginsburg, Elisabeth (1993-03-07). "Westminster Choir College - A Merger's New Challenges". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- Ginsburg, Elisabeth (1994-07-10). "Choir College May Get New Address". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- Kandell, Leslie (1996-04-21). "MUSIC - MUSIC - A Choir School Is Singing Its Ode to Joy Again - Review". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- Joseph Woodhull. "Westminster College of the Arts - Rider University - Frequently Asked Questions about Westminster". Rider.edu. Retrieved 2010-09-05.[dead link]
- Jess Scanlon. "All for One or One for All?: Cultural differences = divide between campuses". theridernews.com. Retrieved 2011-04-05.
- "Master Plan and New Academic Building". KSS Architects. 2010-05-01. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- Rider University, Ripple Effects Interactive (2006-10-12). "Rider University :: newswire@Rider :: Westminster Celebrates Opening". Rider.edu. Retrieved 2010-09-05.[dead link]
- "Westminster Symphonic Choir Performances".
- "New Jersey Symphony Orchestra September 2010-11 Season Calendar". Njsymphony.org. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- "Great Performers 1011 | Dresden Staatskapelle". New.lincolncenter.org. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- "Dresden Staatskapelle Orchestra". Kimmel Center. Retrieved 2010-09-05.