Editor’s Note: This post was delayed due to the holidays. While the holidays are over, we’re publishing this to give you another insight into the Westminster Choir’s activities.
‘Tis the season to ring in the holidays with the Westminster Choir! A magical time of year, the season is generally greeted with the impending dates of finals, many different project deadlines, and the anxiety of going home to celebrate a semester well fought. No matter what turmoils may abound during the semester, the traditional holiday concerts at Westminster Choir College are sure to put all concert-goers (and preparers) in jovial spirits. No matter what holiday you celebrate, communal joy and kinship are brought to the forefront in these many concerts. I’m proud to say that they are what I cherish the most from my educational experience at Westminster.
The Westminster Choir has been preparing holiday music for our annual benefit performance at the Racquet & Tennis Club in New York City. This year was no different. We prepared beautiful carols by composers Rutter, Handel, and Willan to offer a multi-faceted approach to holiday music. Each was unique, and each delivered a poignant message that the choir eloquently delivered. Before taking the stage, all members of the choir participated in a photo shoot to show our holiday spirit. Our performance was really short, but it still touched the hearts of performers and audience members alike. On the way home, we convinced our usual bus driver, Rich, to drive by the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, and the choir joyfully cheered in unison. Can you tell we love the holidays?
Another seasonal favorite at Westminster Choir College is the annual Readings and Carols performance. Every December, this holiday concert is sold-out as the Princeton community prepares for the holidays. We’ve been told that these concerts are staples in the community: many attendees use this as their jumping off point to get into the holiday spirit. What a concert it was! Chapel Choir, Schola Cantorum, and Symphonic Choir are the ensembles providing the music for these concerts, with the Princeton Girl Choir acting as our special guests. As one of the graduate assistants for Schola Cantorum, there was much to do in terms of logistics. But none of those truly mattered. What truly mattered was watching more than 300 students in the Princeton University Chapel chancel expressing a message of peace on Earth and love for all mankind. No words are able to describe how magical these concerts are, and why should there be? The heaven-laden music made at these events surpasses all thoughts and words possible. I may sound like a broken record, but saying that I’m blessed to be studying in such a place of high art is an understatement.
To wrap up the Westminster Choir’s holiday traditions, we had our annual holiday party at Dr. Miller’s house at the start of finals week. This time of merriment, gift-giving, and familial bonding was much needed to close the semester properly. Making music together three days a week is a gift unto itself, but taking the time to become better acquainted with other members of the choir is just as important. This year, the choir purchased a star in honor of Dr. Miller’s mentor at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Elmer Thomas, who passed away last year. Tenor Justin Su’esu’e led this initiative and gave an eloquent speech on the important role Dr. Miller plays in our lives and our appreciation for the love and compassion he gives us day in and day out. As touched as he was, he spoke to us calmly and reaffirmed how much of an honor it is for him to lead us. What a special place this is, full of hallowed memories and reminders of why music is necessary in our lives. Spreading our love for one another and changing the world through our music making is the reason for the season at Westminster.