To the Editor:
I am on the faculty of Westminster Conservatory, and a parent of two children in the Princeton Public Schools. It has become clear to me in my discussions with students and friends that for some, there is confusion about the difference between the two music schools on the Westminster Choir College campus.
There are two significant programs connected with Westminster: the college and the community music school. These are distinct operations, having differing relationships with the Princeton community.
Westminster Choir College, is the home of a world-renowned choir program. The symphonic choir sings regularly with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Great choral directors, opera singers, pianists, organists, school music educators, composers, and ministers of music have studied there. Many graduates teach and perform in schools, universities, religious institutions, and professional and community organizations throughout the country and the world. Initially founded in Dayton, Ohio in 1920, the college established its home in Princeton in 1932, clearly motivated by the desire to be close to metropolitan centers and great orchestras. Westminster merged with Rider University in 1991.
Graduates from Westminster Choir College regularly teach in our local schools and institutions. Currently these include, among others, Princeton’s Littlebrook and Riverside elementary schools, Princeton High School, The Chapin School, Westminster Conservatory, as well as independent music studios.
Westminster Conservatory is the community music school in Princeton where about 2,000 students of all ages from Princeton as well as from surrounding towns, come for private lessons in all instruments, chamber music, music theory, choir, early childhood music education, musical theater, jazz, a community orchestra, and several summer music camps. It also hosts the Honors Music Program, an enrichment program that meets on Saturdays throughout the school year. Westminster Conservatory is a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts.
Since 1970, Westminster Conservatory has served as a musical home for students and for faculty. The school’s mission is to, “provide excellence in music instruction to a broad constituency of amateur and professional musicians and to promote the appreciation and performance of music within the community at large.”
I graduated with my masters in piano performance from Westminster Choir College and my mother, Phyllis Lehrer, has been a professor in the piano department for 45 years. I am hoping that this gem of a music school will stay in Princeton. However, the future of the college is unclear and therefore the community music school, made up of local students, needs a contingency plan.
Let us be certain that Westminster Conservatory, a community treasure that benefits us all, continues to have a home in Princeton. This will help to preserve Princeton’s preeminent reputation as a regional cultural center.
Piano Faculty, Westminster Conservatory