The power of a child’s voice, the confidence of a young adult, and the empowerment of a generation of women are all benefits and legacies of Westrick Music Academy. Begun as Princeton Girlchoir, WMA is an institution that has thrived in the Princeton, New Jersey area for the last thirty years. Today, its 10 choirs and various music education programs serve nearly 400 children each year.
But it was from humble beginnings that this organization first took root. In the late 1980’s, music teacher Jan Westrick enjoyed the concerts given by the American Boychoir and wondered why no similar organization existed for girls. Busy with marriage, children and career, Jan’s musings remained just that until 1989 when her youngest child left for college. Finally with some time on her hands, Jan decided to start a choir for young girls. With that aim in mind, Jan placed advertisements in three local papers for auditions for a newly created girlchoir.
Twenty-seven girls made up the first choir; twenty-seven girls who did not regularly sing in two-part harmony. They came from local schools and practices took place at Princeton Day School on Mondays – a rehearsal day that continues thirty years later.
Quickly, the size and the scope of the choir changed. The choirs expanded as more girls and their parents realized the advantages that come from raising their voices in song, the confidence earned by performing at home and abroad, and the rewards of an incomparable musical education. Throughout this growth, under the stewardship of Ms. Westrick, the choirs continued to flourish, and honors and distinctions followed the girls. They have performed on concert stages from Carnegie Hall to St. Peter’s Basilica for dignitaries and world leaders and at prestigious national conferences.
Today, under the leadership of Artistic Director Dr. Lynnel Joy Jenkins, the choir continues to expand both its performance and music education offerings, making it the area’s premier choir for girls.
With the announcement of the American Boychoir School’s closure in 2017, the organization came full circle by announcing the creation of Princeton Boychoir as a sister organization to PGC. Under the direction of Fred Meads, the three choirs that make up PBC have grown to become an integral part of the organization.
Jan Westrick’s legacy is celebrated and honored today through the creation of Westrick Music Academy, which is home to Princeton Girlchoir and Princeton Boychoir along with a growing number of music education offerings serving our choristers and the broader community. Together, these musicians unite in raising their voices to create beauty and set a standard for living a beautiful and creative life.
Princeton Girlchoir founded for grades 5-7
PGC Ensemble is first added to the choir
Princeton Girlchoir Incorporated
Apprentice Choir added to Princeton Girlchoir, expanding the age range of the choirs to serve 5th-9th graders
Apprentice Choir renamed Semi-Tones, and Grace Notes is added to expand the range of choristers to 3rd-9th graders
“Princeton Girlchoir” renamed Concert Choir, formally making choristers in all three choirs members of Princeton Girlchoir
Alumnae Cantores added, allowing 10th-12th graders who had “graduated” from PGC to continue singing
Alumnae Cantores renamed Cantores
20th Anniversary and retirement of Founding Director Jan Westrick
Lynnel Joy Jenkins joins as Artistic Director; Quarter Notes added to the roster of Choirs
Ensemble reestablished after a short absence; First Executive Director Janet Perkins retires
Hilary Butler joins as Executive Director
Princeton Boychoir established with Fred Meads as Music Director; Eighth Notes added to Princeton Girlchoir; Westrick Music Academy formed
Westrick Music Academy begins the season at their new facility in Princeton Junction