Princeton GirlChoir, BoyChoir mark Prague, Vienna, Montreal and Quebec with song
Not only do Princeton Girlchoir and Princeton Boychoir perform throughout New Jersey, they travel nationally and internationally – through skies of blue and clouds of white – to share songs with and for others.
After two years of largely virtual rehearsals and performances due to the pandemic, Westrick Music Academy students are happy to return to a wonderful world of singing together in person with other choirs.
Under the direction of artistic director Dr. Lynnel Joy Jenkins, the singers of the Princeton Girlchoir’s Concert Choir, Cantores and Ensemble have given concerts in renowned venues in Montreal and Quebec, including the Notre-Dame Basilica.
The members of the Princeton Boychoir, under director of education Fred Meads, made their international debut as part of the Boychoir’s fifth anniversary season, collaborating on concerts in Prague and Vienna. One of the highlights was a performance at Dvorak Hall, home of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of renowned composer and conductor Dr. Rollo Dilworth.
These young singers, aged 12 to 18, experienced firsthand the power of music to bring people from different cultures and backgrounds together. A few of them shared the impact of the experience in their own words:
James C. Teti, Princeton Boychoir Treble Choir, student at St. Paul’s Catholic School in Princeton.
“There is unexpected power in 130 people with a common goal. In our case, the goal was to bring joy through music, a moving mission to be part of,” James said. “Our story begins weeks before any concert, flight or even packing, when a small group of young men, no older than 14, come together to make music together. The period of rehearsal and learning that took place before the tour served to make the Princeton Boychoir more musically confident and more of a community, and I made friends with the other 13 boys in that room.
“After nearly 12 hours of travel, we arrived in the beautiful city of Prague. The following days were a whirlwind of touring, singing at national cathedrals and even moving other Czechs and tourists to tears, and consuming Czech culture, architecture and cuisine.
“However, the most memorable parts of the whole tour were the three-hour rehearsals with the rest of the festival choir. To be in a hall with so many dedicated musicians and making wonderful choral music under the direction of Dr. Rollo Dilworth, who is a favorite composer and our director, was simply an incredible experience that I will certainly never forget.
“After our beautiful moments in Prague, we hopped on our bus and drove to the beautiful city of Vienna. That same day we saw many palaces from which the decisions, which would be
shape the history of the world, have been made.
“On our last day in Europe, we gave a concert at St. Peter’s Church in the Ringstrasse. At the beginning of the concert, there were very few people in the church, but at the end there were more than 150 people. What is amazing is that they almost all stayed. By the end of the concert, all the pews in the church were filled and music lovers had to fill the church from buttress to naïve, standing at the very back to get a glimpse of this concert if necessary.
“This concert was an incredible musical experience. After visiting these beautiful cities, we had left a small mark on the lands we visited with our concerts, tours and shiny blue t-shirts; For my part, I can say that this tour has left a positive mark on me,” said James.
Aishwarya Rao, Princeton Girlchoir Ensemble, student at West Windsor Plainsboro High South School
“Our trip to Quebec was an action-packed adventure filled with the right balance of everything [from] tourist activities such as strolling through Old Quebec and Quebec City, opportunities to sing our hearts out in beautiful places, including the Notre-Dame Basilica [to] time to shop and eat in Quartier Petit Champlain,” said Aishwarya.
Rao provided a brief overview of the kind of projects the choir had every day.
“On the first day of the trip, after arriving in Lake George, we had the opportunity to attend a painting workshop by the beautiful lake and sing at the Sembrich, rejuvenating ourselves after the long journey,” she said. declared. “We later returned to Lake George for a dinner cruise and returned to our hotels with full, happy bellies and stars in our eyes after seeing how beautiful Lake George and its little islands were.
“Throughout the trip, not only did we get to see breathtaking sights and participate in fun activities, but we also learned so much about Quebec culture and the stories behind everything we saw. One of my favorite stories was how, in Quartier Petit Champlain, the statue of the founder of Quebec City actually had the face of a criminal from decades ago, because no one really knew what the founder’s face looked like.
“We also heard of a phrase that sounds a bit like a slogan in Quebec, ‘je me souvenir’ which translates to ‘I remember’. Our wonderful guide explained to us that this means that the people of Quebec remember their culture, their history and their values, which I found very powerful.
“This year’s international tour allowed me to open my eyes to the rich cultural diversity that makes up our world, as well as to the commonalities between each country. Not only did I love visiting Quebec because I had the chance to put my French skills to the test, but it helped me realize that everywhere in the world everyone has similar passions and similar fights. Our concerts showed me the power of music. People who didn’t know who we were gathered to listen to us sing, then showered us with love and compliments.
“Additionally, during our performance at the Chalmers-Wesley United Church, all attendees were encouraged to donate to a fund to help Canadian troops helping Ukraine. Music, our common passion, brought us together and our common understanding of the independence struggle enabled us to help others,” said Aishwarya.
Jack Elliott, Princeton Boychoir Young Men’s Ensemble, student at Hopewell Valley Central High School
“The Prague and Vienna tour was my third tour with the Princeton Boychoir, and it was my favorite experience so far. It was my first time touring as a member of the Young Men’s Ensemble, and I think it really enhanced the experience,” said Jack. “We were given more freedom and our Head Boys were great leaders. We also worked with Dr Rollo Dilworth, a brilliant conductor who taught the boys in our choir some invaluable lessons. Another of my favorite things about this tour, and the tour experience in general, is meeting people from other choirs. I bonded d friendship with choir members from Washington, Florida and New York, and I still speak to some to this day.
“We were also able to see some absolutely stunning sights in Prague and Vienna. Overall, this trip was an incredible bonding experience for the whole choir, as well as a wonderful and successful musical experience that I will always be grateful for,” he said.
Westrick Music Academy in Princeton Junction is currently auditioning for the 2022-23 school year. Many performance opportunities are planned for the year.
For those interested in joining Princeton Girlchoir or Princeton Boychoir or for more information on all Westrick Music Academy programs, visit https://westrickmusic.org/