Alarm over the survival of historic choir college

Alarm over the survival of historic choir college


norman lebrecht

December 11, 2016

A correspondent reports:


Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, has been at the heart of American choral music for 90 years. Our choirs sang on Disney’s “Fantasia”, and with virtually every major conductor and orchestra. It appears regularly with the New York Phil and Philly Orchestra, and many touring orchestras such as Berliner Philharmoniker, Vienna Phil &c.

The school was purchased by Rider University (in nearby Lawrenceville) in the 1990’s after falling on hard times. Rider promised to always allow us to keep our individual identity, our own campus, and our mission of furthering choral music, sacred music, music education, vocal/organ/piano performance in the USA and beyond.

Unfortunately, the new president of Rider, Gregory Dell’omo, is now proposing to sell the Princeton campus, absorbing Westminster onto the main Lawrenceville campus. This would likely be a death sentence for the school. Our identity is based upon us operating as a independent institution. Moving us to the other campus would make enrolment take a dive, upset many donors that continue to fund the school, and reduce the education quality.

The most upsetting part of this is that Westminster is very healthy in both enrolment and fundraising. We have been meeting and exceeding both goals in recent years. Rider University, however, is in such horrible financial shape that it needs a massive injection of cash, or will face bankruptcy in 2018 or 2019.

A Save Westminster petition has opened here.  Spread the word.


  • Pam Prior says:

    Please also join our “Keep Westminster Choir College in Princeton” Facebook group. We can use all of the leverage we can get. Rider has compressed their decision process into two months – one of them when students are off-campus.

  • Chris says:

    “Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, has been at the heart of American choral music for 10 years.”- The school was founded in 1926 and moved to Princeton in 1932 and moved to the current campus in 1934.

  • Olassus says:

    Westminster Choir is indeed as prestigious as any choral group in the United States, by dint of history and collaborations.

    Sounds like WCC needs to now disentangle itself from Rider University, returning some cash Rider’s way in the process. The connection between the two never made sense. WCC should certainly be on its own campus with its own focus.

    • Anthony Celentano says:

      Westminster Choir College joined Rider University in 1991 because it could not afford to keep its doors open. Westminster still does not pay for itself and if it “disentangled” itself from Rider, it would be forced to close its own doors.

    • Sara says:

      Totally agree!!

      • Actually... says:

        That’s incorrect – Westminster is in fact a very fiscally healthy institution, and does, in fact, largely pay for itself. Certain members of the Rider U administration have recently misquoted numbers and taken facts and figures out of context in order to give an impression that WCC is unhealthy.

        • Dan Gallagher says:

          Today, Westminster is fiscally sound – it’s Rider that has enrollment problems. Google it. I’ve always thought that Rider U. had it’s eye more on the potential profit from the 28 acres of the college’s prime real estate sitting in the middle of Princeton, when it purchased the property in 1992.

  • Jennifer says:

    Just wanted to let you know about a minor typo — in the last paragraph, it should say “enrollment,” not “enrolment.”

  • Rob van der Hilst says:

    Well…… n e v e r – e v e r slaughter a chicken that lays the golden eggs, artistically and financially spoken

  • Mary Kier says:

    Westminster Choir College could only be itself on the present campus. It has all ready expanded and invested in new buildings.
    We could start a drive to keep it in Princeton and sever ties with Rider. Or at least rewrite a clause that it never be sold.

  • Deborah says:

    A short sided view with tragic results. Everything valuable to our humanity cannot be measured in dollars. More and more of American universities are driven by the almighty dollar. An education of this kind cannot be duplicated just anywhere.