Westminster Conservatory Children's Chorus performs at the White House


Cantus, Westminster Conservatory’s Children’s Choir, and its conductor, Patricia Thel, performed at the White House holiday reception on December 6.

This was their seventh White House holiday appearance.  Their first invitation to sing came in 1999, after conductor Thel sent a recording of the ensemble to the White House Social Office.  The choir not only sang during the holiday season that year, it has been invited to return six times.  This season marks the seventh time the choir has been invited to perform.

In 1999, the choir performed in the East Room for a party for White House volunteers.  It was during the Clinton administration, and Mrs. Clinton welcomed the children, talked to each child, and shook every hand.  The Secret Service let the children play with the Clintons’ dog, Buddy, and their cat, Socks.  After singing, the children toured the White House and spent time in every room. 

Each subsequent trip has been a little different.  The choir has sung holiday music for parties and for public tours.  In 2003, the choir sang for Mrs. Bush at a holiday party during which Mrs. Bush thanked the children for their performance and recognized their accomplishments.  They sang twice more during the Bush administration for tours and parties

They sang twice during the Obama administration for holiday tours. Each time they sang, they were treated to cookies created by the White House chef and toured the White House after their performance. 

On December 6, they made their seventh trip to the White House, to sing for a White house tour and reception that was exclusively for diplomats.  They sang in the Grand Entrance of the White House, surrounded by beautifully decorated trees, and performing with the famous Roosevelt Steinway.

Kaleigh Brendle, a longtime member of the choir said “My favorite moment of the entire trip was standing together with the Westminster Conservatory Children’s Choir, my music family, singing Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire to ambassadors from around the world.  Our collective goal was to inspire those who heard us to bring peace and unity this holiday season.”

The community music school of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts, Westminster Conservatory offers classes and private lessons for all ages in Princeton and in extensions in the surrounding areas. ay performance since they were first invited to perform in 1999.