Monday, September 28, 2020 - 12:00
A letter from Provost Fredeen to the Rider community
- Dr. Michael J. Diorio '00, who has been serving as an adjunct assistant professor of organ since fall 2019, took the first test drive on the Casavant Organ — known by many at Westminster Choir College as the Scheide Organ — after it was relocated to Gill Chapel.
- The Casavant "Scheide" organ has been relocated to Gill Chapel.
- The circulation desk for Talbott Library. A new sign is coming.
- New faculty studio in Omega House
- A Fine Arts classroom
- A Fine Arts classroom
- Members of the Westminster Concert Bell Choir and conductor Kathleen Ebling Shaw test the acoustics — socially distant — in the new Presser Handbell Room. Tables and bells will delivered this week.
- A new faculty studio in Omega House
- New Music Computing Lab
- New Wenger practice room in Gill Chapel
- Presser Voice Lab will house state-of-the art technology.
Dear Rider Community,
Many months before the pandemic became a constant feature of our lives, we had been preparing for a marked change this semester.
This fall, for the first time ever, students of Westminster Choir College are living and learning solely on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus. Independent of any other event, this would have been a monumental change. Taken together with the pandemic, it is almost head-spinning to try and grasp the scale of change these students are facing in their everyday lives.
This public health crisis, unlike any in living memory, has had significant effects on the Choir College. Among them, the Westminster Choir is taking a one-year hiatus for the first time ever, and many other activities and concerts have been canceled or altered.
These heartbreaking challenges have been met not just with dignity and optimism but with bold creativity. Remote instruction and the temporary closing of so many beloved performance venues, like the Kimmel Center and Carnegie Hall, are not enough to stop our community from sharing the gift of music — even if for now it often has to be shared on Zoom.
Despite the pandemic, we have achieved many milestones integral to the campus transition. Over the past couple of months, major construction has been completed on several facilities projects that will serve our students, particularly those enrolled in Westminster Choir College.
Pianos have been moved into faculty studios. A new music computing lab is open inside Daly's. Talbott Library now occupies the top two floors of Moore Library, with a new circulation desk specifically for Talbott's resources and materials. Once furniture and equipment are installed, the new Presser Voice Lab will be complete inside the Fine Arts Center. The Casavant organ, also known as the Scheide Organ, has been relocated to Gill Chapel — a centerpiece of a major renovation project that also includes a new performing and rehearsal space, many large and small practice rooms, worship spaces, and more.
The new spaces are the result of hundreds of individuals working together, often under conditions that were far from ideal. I am grateful for those efforts and look forward to seeing how our community uses these resources for their personal and professional growth.
To those who have a longtime affiliation with the Princeton campus, these new facilities may appear as strange as masked citizens were only a few months ago. But as the pandemic has taught us, we are a resilient community, and we are stronger because of our ability to adjust, to find fertile ground in new terrain.
I believe this new living and learning environment has the potential to become a place of comfort — a home — for a new generation of Westminster students as new experiences intermingle with Westminster traditions, and fresh memories take hold. I hope everyone who loves Westminster will allow themselves to believe in that vision as well.
We want a strong and sustainable future for Westminster Choir College, where its legacy as a world-class institution will not only be preserved but enhanced. That remains our goal. We have been working toward this moment for so long, it’s invigorating to arrive here and realize we have reached not a conclusion but rather a new beginning. Our work continues. The song, certainly, is not over.
I wish you all a wonderful semester. Work hard and stay safe.
DonnaJean Fredeen, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs