Where the Light Begins Program

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Where the Light Begins

Perhaps it does not begin.
Perhaps it is always.

Perhaps it takes
a lifetime
to open our eyes,
to learn to see
what has forever
shimmered in front of us

the luminous line
of the map
in the dark

the vigil flame
in the house
of the heart,

the love
so searing
we cannot keep
from singing,

from crying out
in testimony
and praise.

Perhaps this day
will be the mountain
over which
the dawn breaks.

Perhaps we
will turn our face
toward it,
toward what has been

our eyes
will finally open
in ancient recognition,
willingly dazzled,
illuminated at last.

Perhaps this day
the light begins
in us.

~ Poem by Jan Richardson


Kuskil peab alguskokkukõla olema,Somewhere there must be the first harmonic sound,
kuskil suures looduses, varjul.somewhere in the vastness of nature, hidden.
On tema vägevas laotuses,It is in its mighty spread and breadth,
täheringide kauguses,in the distances between galaxies,
on tema päikese sära sees,it’s in the brilliance of the sun,
lillekeses, metsakohinas,in small flowers, in the breezes through forests,
emakõne südamemuusikasin a mother’s voice speaking the music of the heart,
või silmavees –or in the water of tears.
kuskil peab surematus olema,Somewhere there must be immortality.
kuskil alguskokkukõla leitama:Somewhere the first harmonic sound exists.
kust oleks muidu inimese rindaHow else into the heart of a person
saanud ta –could it have arrived as
Estonian, Poem by Juhan Liiv (1864-1913)English Translation by Peter Lohuaru

Ave Maria

Ave Maria, gratia plena,Hail Mary, full of grace,
Dominus tecum.the Lord is with thee.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,Blessed art thou among women,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,Holy Mary, Mother of God,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,pray for us sinners,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.now and in the hour of our death. Amen

Fueled by the power of a girl’s voice, Princeton Girlchoir presents extraordinary performances at home and throughout the world, while educating the musician, building confidence, and fostering a life-long love of singing together. Founded in 1989 as an after- school activity for girls interested in choral music, Princeton Girlchoir has grown into the area’s premier training and performance choir for girls, with over 300 choristers participating each year. The organization has seven choirs, comprising girls in 3rd through 12th grade. These choirs present music from a wide array of genres, conductors and composers.  While honing their musicianship, choristers begin life-long friendships, enjoy professional performance opportunities, and travel the world.

Princeton Girlchoir has been honored to perform in a wide array of venues for audiences both nationally and internationally. Notable performances include the North American premiere of Tan Dun’s Symphony 1997 with Yo- Yo Ma at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center; multiple appearances at Carnegie Hall; performances for dignitaries such as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Jeb Bush, Rush Holt, and Sandra Day O’Connor; performing the national anthem at several professional sporting events; and appearances at conferences of the American Choral Directors Association, Organization of American Kodály Educators, and NJ Music Educators Association.

Princeton Girlchoir is a program of Westrick Music Academy, home to choirs, music classes, and summer camps for musicians from kindergarten through adulthood.

Concert Choir

Annika Alden-Siegel
Sakhi Balaji
Bhavna Bangalore
Megan Bommireddy
Rhea Cadambi
Anshu Cherukumilli
Allison Chirik
Elizabeth Chorba
Saana Dharia
Angela Du
Ece Ergin
Julia Ferencz
Katherine Ferencz
Robin Freeman
Sofia Ghani
Treya Ghosh
Annabelle Grayson
Pavana Gujjar
Anjali Harish
Julia James
Aryianna Johnson
Anna Kaufman
Lauren Kim
Vikhya Kota
Neena Kumar
Sonia Lackey
Marianna LeCompte
Nicole Lee
Sophia Magee
Rachael Mann
Ashmi Mehta
Sara Miller
Aishani Mukherjee
Emily Nichols
Hansika Nittala
Lois Oppong
Siri Parakoti
Kena Patel
Eva Qin
Sara Quddus
Simran Rath
Savannah Ruiz-Hinson
Emma Salas
Nikita Sargunar
Oishee Sinharay
Mira Sridhar
Shriya Sumanth
Rathi Sundar
Sriteja Thodima
Sowmya Venkatesh
Marjorie Williams
Surbhi Yerramilli
Julia Zhou


Anushka Bhagavathula
Naina Biswas
Katherine Cargille
Isabelle Carter
Grace Choy
Isabella Crapanzano *
Samantha Di Nino
Angelina Diaz
Tierney Drake *
Nomah Elliot
Julia Franklin
Amenah Ghani *
Ria Giri
Leanne Griffiths
Jahnavi Gupta
Lamya Hussain
Meghana Kakaraparthi
Chloe Kim *
Sarah Nichols
Anya Nirschl
Valerie Oginsky
Megan Pressler
Cara Pretto
Sangeeta Quddus
Rima Ravi
Abigail Reytblat *†
Sofia Romagnoli
Maya Sawhney
Henna Sharma
Neha Tengshe *
Kyara Torres-Olivares *†
Devin Vandenberg
Syona Wadhwa
Rebekah Wang
Julia Weiss
Susanna Weiss *
Zuri Williams
Janneth Wojtowicz
Angelina Xu

PGC Ensemble

Eliana Bice
Emilia Carbajal
Katrina Cariaga *
Claudia Charles *
Sierra Chow
Sophie Deerberg
Amenah Ghani *
Rachel Herway
Sarah Nichols
Anya Nirschl
Muskan Paliwal *
Ishana Parmar
Cara Pretto
Anusha Qaisar *
Eva Qin
Miranda Qing
Aishwarya Rao *
Avery Richardson
Maya Sawhney
Abby Scatena
Anushya Shankar *†
Henna Sharma
Mira Sridhar
Paige Stewart *†
Sanjana Venkatesh *
Julia Weiss
Melanie Zhang *†

* denotes graduating senior
† denotes “PGC Lifer” (sang with PGC since 3rd grade)

Katrina Cariaga, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

Claudia Charles, Homeschool

Isabella Crapanzano, Robbinsville High School

Tierney Drake, Pennsbury High School

Amenah Ghani, Montgomery High School

Chloe Kim, Princeton High School

Muskan Paliwal, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

Anusha Qaisar, Robbinsville High School

Aishwarya Rao, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

* Abigail Reytblat, Homeschool

* Anushya Shankar, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

* Paige Stewart, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

Neha Tengshe, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North

* Kyara Torres-Olivares, Princeton High School

Sanjana Venkatesh, Montgomery High School

Susanna Weiss, Stuart Country Day School

* Melanie Zhang, Montgomery High School

* “Lifer” – Chorister since third grade

Click here to learn more about our staff

Lynnel Joy Jenkins, DMA (Artistic Director, Concert Choir and Ensemble) is Artistic Director of Westrick Music Academy and Choral Teacher at Timberlane Middle School of the Hopewell Valley Regional School District. At Westrick Music Academy, Dr. Jenkins conducts advanced groups, Princeton Girlchoir Ensemble and Concert Choir. She is a choral educator of international stature, having lectured and conducted choral festivals or music programs in Switzerland, China, Hong Kong, Iceland, and South Africa. Nationally, she has conducted honor choruses for one national, four regional, and several state conferences for American Choral Directors Association, two national conferences for OAKE, and numerous All-State choruses. Jenkins has earned degrees from Westminster Choir College (B.M.), Temple University (M.M.), and University of Arizona (D.M.A.), and at the first two institutions was awarded the Elaine Brown Conducting Award.

Chaequan Anderson (Associate Director, Cantores) is an active choral conductor and music educator based in Princeton, New Jersey. Mr. Anderson has varied choral experience directing school, community youth and children, and professional choirs. In addition to his work with Princeton Girlchoir, Mr. Anderson is Director of Middle School Choirs at Montclair Kimberley Academy, Intermediate Choir Director at Trenton Children’s Chorus, Cantus Choir Director at Westminster Conservatory, and Co-Founder & Artistic Director of Glassbrook Vocal Ensemble, a professional choir based in Ewing, NJ.  

He has performed with several choral ensembles in the area, including the Philadelphia Orchestra Symphonic Choir, Princeton Pro Musica, and VOICES Chorale of Hopewell. Additionally, he was a member of the highly acclaimed Westminster Choir of Westminster Choir College. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Kodály Certification from Westminster Choir College, and professional member-ships with American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Educators and Organization of American Kodály Educators

Ryan Brechmacher (Collaborative Pianist, Cantores) is an active performer, composer, teacher, and pianist. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree in both Piano Performance/Pedagogy and Theory/ Composition, studying with Ingrid Clarfield and Stefan Young at Westminster Choir College of Rider University. Ryan has served as an accompanist for the Westminster Youth Chorale, Voices Chorale, and singers and instrumentalists in the area.

An accomplished composer, his works have been heard throughout the United States and Europe. He has had pieces premiered by the Westminster Schola Cantorum, Westminster Youth Chorale, Bowling Green Junior High School Bands, the Bowling Green Area Community Band, VOICES Chorale, Princeton Day School choirs, and Princeton Girlchoir’s Concert Choir. His choral and piano compositions have been published by Alfred Music Publishing, GIA Publications, and Trans-continental Music.

Mr. Brechmacher is also the full-time Staff Accompanist at Princeton Day School, where he also teaches AP Music Theory.

Pianist Julia Hanna (Collaborative Pianist, Concert Choir) has performed widely in the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, building an extensive repertoire of solo and chamber music.   Currently, she serves as a coach and accompanist at Westminster Choir College.   As an accompanist she has also performed and toured with several choirs from the New York area, in which capacity the New York Times has praised her performances as “vivid” and “deft.”   In 2018 Julia was honored to be a featured performer in a Philip Glass opera workshop in North Adams, MA.

Stefanie Watson (Collaborative Pianist, Quarter Notes and Ensemble) serves as pianist with Princeton Girlchoir. She also accompanies area choirs, including many state and regional honor choirs and the Hopewell Valley Chorus. Stefanie works at The College of New Jersey as staff pianist, adjunct professor, and music director of the Lyric Theatre program. She is also the music director of Emanuel Lutheran Church in New Brunswick and maintains a private piano studio. Stefanie studied Piano Performance at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (B.A.) and Collaborative Piano at Rutgers University (M.M.)

Rochelle Ellis (soprano), DMA Voice, is a performer and teacher. She holds positions as Adjunct Associate Professor of Voice at Westminster Choir College of Rider University and as Lecturer of Voice at Princeton University. As a performer, she has distinguished herself in a broad repertoire that extends from Bach and Brahms to Verdi and Gershwin.  She made her New York City Opera debut as “Serena” in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and her Carnegie Hall debut in Bach’s Cantata 140, with Joseph Flummerfelt. Internationally, she has performed the Verdi Requiem with the National Opera of China in Beijing, sung opera favorites at the Prague [Czech Republic] Autumn Music Festival, and has performed solo recitals in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan. She has frequently performed in the Princeton area with Princeton Pro Musica, VOICES Chorale, and the Richardson Chamber Players.

Active in community outreach in music, Dr. Ellis is currently a Faculty Fellow with Trenton Arts at Princeton. She teaches in the summer Westminster Conservatory High School Vocal Institute and the Solo Vocal Artist Camp. Dr. Ellis has served as Teaching Artist for The Princeton Festival Guild and has served as Music Director and Solo/Small Ensemble Director for the Trenton Children’s Chorus. She has recently completed a term as a member of the Board of Directors with Capital Singers of Trenton, a community choral ensemble.

The St. Louis native received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Voice from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She received her Master of Music Education degree from Westminster Choir College of Rider University and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music.

Todd Nichols‘ (percussion) credits include work as a music educator, conductor, and performer throughout the United States. Dr. Nichols currently serves as Director of University Bands at Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey. His duties include oversight and administration of the university band program, directing the Marching Scarlet Knights and Symphonic Winds, and teaching graduate conducting. As Director of the Marching Scarlet Knights, Dr. Nichols led highly acclaimed performances for the NFL’s nationally televised Monday Night Football, the 2021 Music for All Grand Nationals finals performance, and for United States President Joseph Biden. In 2020-2021, Dr. Nichols served as a Guest Lecturer at New York University, and he currently teaches private conducting lessons for Columbia University. Dr. Nichols currently serves as President of the Big Ten Band Director’s National Association.

Dr. Nichols annually serves as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and recording producer and is especially honored to have guest conducted the United States Army Field Band. In addition, Dr. Nichols currently serves as Assistant Conductor for the Garden State Symphonic Band (Local 16-248 AFM). As artistic director for the Eastern Wind Symphony, Dr. Nichols conducted highly acclaimed performances at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center and records regularly with the ensemble, including two recent albums Resurgence and Elements. Under his direction, the EWS received multiple Grammy Award nominations of eligibility and has been invited to perform at major conventions including the 2021 and 2015 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, 2019 ACB National Convention, 2017 NAfME All Eastern Convention, and 2017 ITG Conference. Dr. Nichols has commissioned thirty new works for wind band, supporting composers including Kevin Bobo, Bruce Broughton, David Gillingham, Julie Giroux, Steve Gryc, Jennifer Higdon, Allison Loggins-Hull, John Mackey, Hila Pitman, William Ryden, Joseph Spaniola, James Stephenson, Randall Standridge, Joe Turrin, Dana Wilson, Eric Whitacre, and Bruce Yurko.

Dr. Nichols received his DMA in conducting at Rutgers University, MM in conducting from Messiah College and BM in music from The College of New Jersey. For nineteen years, Dr. Nichols served as Director of Bands at Roxbury and Edison High Schools in New Jersey, where his ensembles were recognized for outstanding performance at numerous local, state, and many prestigious national festivals and concerts. Dr. Nichols recently co-authored two articles accepted for publication in The Journal of Band Research and WASBE Journal. Dr. Nichols was inducted into the prestigious American Bandmasters Association and American School Band Directors Association in 2016. He received the Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association in 2016 and 2020 and NJ the Governor’s Teacher Recognition Award in 2001. Dr. Nichols professional affiliations include the B1G Band Directors Association, WASBE, CBDNA, and AFM.

Dr. Nichols resides in Hillsborough, NJ with his wife, Beth, and daughters, Sarah, and Emily.

Princeton Girlchoir and Westrick Music Academy wishes to thank the following individuals and organizations for making today’s concert possible:

  • New Jersey State Council on the Arts
  • Discover Jersey Arts
  • Princeton Area Community Foundation
  • Voorhees Chapel, Rutgers University: Ksenia Bobylak Administrative Assistant
  • Briann Dixon Videography, LLC
  • Our wonderful volunteers who help in so many ways
  • Our donors like you who made this concert possible!

Board of Directors

Michael Wasden, President
Archana Pradhan, MD, MPH, President-Elect
Mark J. Badros, Treasurer
Daniela M. Phayme, Secretary
Tasneem Hajara
Xiaobing Li
Frederick A. Pettit, Esq.
Eeraj J. Qaisar
Laura Fenster Rothschild, PsyD
Raegan M. Ruiz
Carolyn Sauer
Joan A. Valcin
Jason Vodicka, DMA
Lynnel Joy Jenkins, DMA, Ex Officio
Hilary K. Butler, Ex Officio

Advisory Board

S. Tina Biswas
Carol Burden
Jordan M. Corn
Patricia Cornet
Barbara Burke DiCostanzo
James M. Jordan
Peter F. Kelly, Esq., Legal Advisor
Beth Nichols
Janet H. Perkins
Alice Teti
Jan A. Westrick

Princeton Girlchoir Staff

Lynnel Joy Jenkins, DMA, Artistic Director, Concert Choir and Ensemble
Hilary K. Butler, Executive Director
Fred Meads, Education Director, Eighth Notes and Quarter Notes
Chaequan Anderson, Associate Director, Cantores
Tom Shelton, Associate Director, Semi-Tones
Rachel DiBlasio, Operations Manager
Carolyn Sienicki, Development & Communications Director
Blanca Gonzalez, Office Manager
Kyle Blackburn, Collaborative Pianist
Ryan Brechmacher, Collaborative Pianist
Julia Hanna, Collaborative Pianist
François Suhr, Collaborative Pianist
Stefanie Watson, Collaborative Pianist
Adrian Camano, Concert Choir Conducting Fellow
Leigh Huber, Ensemble Conducting Fellow
Anna Matone, Cantores Conducting Fellow
Isabella Crapanzano, Eighth Notes Intern
Leanne Griffiths, Eighth Notes Intern
Abigail Reytblat, Eighth Notes Intern
Henna Sharma, Quarter Notes Intern
Julia Weiss, Quarter Notes Intern
Amenah Ghani, Semi-Tones Intern
Muskan Paliwal, Semi-Tones Intern
Anushya Shankar, Semi-Tones Intern
Devin Embrich, Rehearsal Coordinator
Rosemary Gurak, Rehearsal Coordinator

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Click here to learn more or make a donation today!


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