Historic Timeline
A classic legacy.
1920 Westminster Choir was established by John Finley Williamson at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Ohio.
1926 The Westminster Choir School was founded.
1928 Westminster Choir and the Cincinnati Symphony made the nation’s first coast-to-coast radio broadcast, aired over Station WLW.
1929 Westminster Choir College was established and moved to Ithaca College.
1932 Westminster Choir College moved to Princeton, N.J.
1934 As the first official American guests of the Soviet Union, with whom the United States had just resumed diplomatic relations, Westminster Choir made the first broadcast from Russia to the United States.
1938 Westminster Choir, with conductor and founder Dr. John Finley Williamson, presented the first U.S. performance of Joseph Haydn’s Passion (The Seven Last Words). The performance also featured a volunteer orchestra of Princetonians, including Albert Einstein in the violin section. # The Choir sang at the dedication of the New York World’s Fair.
1939 Westminster Choir sang for the first time with the New York Philharmonic. Since then, it has set a record for the number of joint performances – more than 350 - by a single choir and orchestra.
1957 Westminster Choir completed a five-month, globe-circling tour under the auspices of the U.S. State Department’s Cultural Exchange Program. The tour was the longest goodwill tour ever made under that program. The Choir performed in 22 countries, traveled 40,000 miles and appeared before 227,000 people.
1964 Westminster Choir sang on the Telstar World-Wide Telecast in the spring for the opening ceremonies of the New York World’s Fair. This reportedly was the largest audience ever to see a television show at that time.
1965 For the first time the Choir appeared with three major orchestras in one year: the Berlin Philharmonic, the American Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
1966 The Choir appeared for the first time in New York’s Philharmonic Hall singing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the New York Philharmonic.
1970 An annual series was instituted featuring the National Symphony and the Westminster Choir, performing in Washington, D.C., and New York. The Choir performed the world premiere of Panufnik’s Universal Prayer at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and recorded Dave Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice on Decca with conductor Erich Kunzel.
1971 Westminster Choir performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during the inaugural week of concerts with the Piedmont Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Nicholas Harsanyi. The work performed was The Dawn of Glory by Christian Latrobe.
1972 Westminster Choir performed and recorded the American premiere of Messiaen’s The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center. This concert marked the Choir’s debut with Maestro Antal Dorati. # The Choir began its first summer as the chorus-in-residence for the Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto, Italy, at the invitation of Gian Carlo Menotti.
1975 Westminster Choir premiered William Schuman’s Casey at the Bat with the National Symphony Orchestra.
1977 Westminster Choir became the first chorus-in-residence at the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. in Charleston, S.C., at the invitation of Gian Carlo Menotti.
1978 Westminster Choir established its own recording label, copyrighted “Westminster Choir,” and released its first recording: Six Motets of Johann Sebastian Bach, with guest conductor Wilhelm Ehmann.
1980 Westminster Choir was the first choir to be featured on the “Live from Lincoln Center” telecast series over National Public Television. The Choir performed Verdi’s Requiem with the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta.
1982 Westminster Choir was part of the 10,000th performance of the New York Philharmonic, America’s oldest permanent orchestra.
1988 Westminster Choir sang Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the New York Philharmonic under the composer’s direction in a performance at Carnegie Hall celebrating the 45th anniversary of Bernstein’s conducting debut with the orchestra.
1990 Westminster Choir performed the world premiere of Menotti’s Salve Regina in Spoleto, Italy. # Westminster Symphonic Choir sang in the Leonard Bernstein memorial concert at the invitation of the Bernstein family.
1991 Westminster Symphonic Choir performed at Carnegie Hall’s 100th Anniversary Celebration.
1992 Westminster Symphonic Choir performed in “A Tribute to Riccardo Muti” with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Maestro Muti, a performance televised nationally on the Arts & Entertainment Cable Network.
1993 Westminster Choir performed the world premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s A Time to Dance with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra at the American Choral Directors Association’s national convention. # Conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch, Westminster Symphonic Choir participated in The Philadelphia Orchestra’s first performance of Britten’s War Requiem.
1996 Westminster Choir, conducted by Joseph Flummerfelt, traveled on a concert tour of Korea and Taiwan and performed in the Colmar Music Festival in Colmar, France
1999 Westminster Symphonic Choir performed the world premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Oltra Mar, 7 Preludes for the New Millennium with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Kurt Masur.
2001 Westminster Choir and the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Joseph Flummerfelt, performed the world premiere of Stephen Paulus’ Voices of Light, commissioned by Rider University to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of Westminster Choir College.
2002 To commemorate the events of September 11, 2001, Westminster Choir was featured in the PRI national radio broadcast of “In the Shadow of the Towers.” They were joined by President George W. Bush and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Westminster Symphonic Choir’s performance of Verdi’s Requiem with the New Jersey Symphony was broadcast nationally by PBS.
2004 Westminster Choir premiered Arise My Love by Stephen Paulus, a gift from the composer to celebrate Joseph Flummerfelt’s extraordinary career. # Westminster’s artistic director, Joseph Flummerfelt, was named Musical America’s 2004 Conductor of the Year, the first choral conductor to be so honored.
2005 Westminster Symphonic Choir performed Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloë (complete) for the first time with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Lorin Maazel.
2006 Westminster Symphonic Choir participated in the New York Philharmonic’s first performance of Mozart’s Mass in C, K. 317 “Coronation,” conducted by Lorin Maazel. # Joe Miller was appointed Director of Choral Activities.
2007 Westminster Symphonic Choir opened the Carnegie Hall season performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, conducted by David Robertson. Rider University's Westminster College of the Arts was established, composed of Westminster Choir College, the School of Fine and Performing Arts and Westminster Conservatory.
2008 Westminster Symphonic Choir performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Gilbert Kaplan, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the work’s American premiere.
2009 Flower of Beauty, Westminster Choir's first full recording with Joe Miller, was released. American Record Guide describes the Choir as "the gold standard for American academic choirs."