Amid Relocation Fears, NJ Choir College's Supporters Plan 24-Hour Sing-Off

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By John Boothe

As Westminster Choir College faces an uncertain future, supporters of the 90-year-old institution are vowing to not let the music stop -- at least for 24 straight hours.

Alumni and students of the Princeton, New Jersey-based college have organized a singing marathon on Jan. 31 in an effort to raise support for the prestigious residential conservatory of music, which is under threat of having its campus relocated.

Westminster Choir College has been a part of nearby Rider University since 1992, but Rider's own decreasing enrollment and a projected $13.1 million budget deficit by 2019 have led university officials to consider a number of cost-cutting measures.

One of those options is to sell Westminster's Princeton campus and move its 320 undergraduates and 119 graduate students to Rider's primary campus 7 miles away in Lawrence.

The music marathon, which begins at 11 AM at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, is the latest awareness initiative by the Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College, which has helped inspire a slew of singing protests, email campaigns, and social media groups in opposition of consolidating the campuses.



"We're hoping that it will show the uniqueness of Westminster Choir College," said Mickey Lazenby Gast, a 1968 graduate, in an interview with NJ.com. "We're small but we're mighty."

Thousands of Westminster Choir College alumni, students, parents, and supporters have also signed an petition on Change.org that was launched last month, pleading with Rider to "stop this blatant disregard for the culture and musicianship our separate campus provides."

Founded in 1926, Westminster Choir College currently sits on a 23-acre campus in downtown Princeton. It's eight choirs, including the Westminster Symphonic Choir, have been featured on more than 180 commercial recordings and perform each year with some of the world's leading orchestras and conductors.

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