Alumni Association Honors Six
The Westminster Choir College Alumni Association honored six individuals at the recent Westminster Choir College Alumni Reunions.
Acting Alumni Council President Thomas Faracco led the Alumni Awards ceremony, which was held in Bristol Chapel. Alumni Merit Awards were presented to Gerald Custer ’75, Darren Dailey ’89 and Timothy Hall ’80, ’89. A Westminster Merit Award was presented to Professor Phyllis Lehrer and a Westminster Service Award was presented to P. Randolph Hill. The Williamson Medal, the highest honor presented by the Westminster Choir College Alumni Association, which recognizes exceptional individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the life of Westminster Choir College, was presented to Professor Laura Brooks Rice.
Gerald Custer was recognized for his achievements as an educator, conductor and composer and for his inspiring linguistic and musical eloquence. He currently teaches music theory, composition and graduate choral literature in the Department of Music at Wayne State University, leads a multiple-choir program at the First Presbyterian Church in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and is the artistic director and conductor of the Seaway Chorale and Orchestra. He is a Grammy-nominated, award-winning composer and arranger, and his works are featured on the recording Inscape: Choral Music of Gerald Custer performed by the Voices of Anam Cara conducted by James Jordan, and as the title track on the CD Innisfree by the same ensemble. His most recent book is The Composer’s Craft: A Practical Guide for Students and Teachers.
Darren Dailey was recognized for his achievements as a teacher, arts administrator and conductor. Recognized as one of our nation’s leaders in the field of children’s choirs, he was the founding artistic director of the Boston Children’s Chorus. He joined the Jacksonville Children's Chorus as President and Artistic Director in 2008, and since then has been shaping the JCC into a world-class organization. Under his artistic leadership, the Chorus has grown to serve more than 1,000 children annually with five core performance choirs, multiple satellite rehearsal locations and outreach throughout the region. A nationally recognized clinician and conductor, he has served as guest conductor at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and, he has presented workshops for a number of national organizations.
Timothy L. Hall was recognized for his achievements as an organist and conductor and his commitment to excellence in church music. For 20 years, Tim was Director of Music and Organist at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah. During his tenure at Wesley, his Wesley Chancel Choir toured England, Scotland, Austria and the Czech Republic, and it was featured in two episodes of the BBC’s weekly series, “Songs of Praise,” singing hymns of Charles Wesley. He was Conductor of Savannah Symphony Chorus for nine seasons, and he was the founding Artistic Director of the Savannah Choral Society (now the Savannah Philharmonic) for three seasons. Since 2008 Tim has served as Organist and Choirmaster at Savannah’s Christ Church, providing leadership for its music program, which the church acknowledges as a “vital expression of worship.”
P. Randolph Hill was recognized for his inspiring commitment to Westminster Choir College — its mission and its students. He has volunteered his time and resources for a number of Westminster Choir College initiatives, including the National Leadership Council, the annual benefit concerts in New York and Princeton. Committed to raising Westminster’s visibility in the Princeton community, Randy is a familiar figure at many Westminster concerts, and he has used those occasions to introduce the Choir College to new audiences. As President of the Friends of the Princeton University Library, he arranged for Westminster Kantorei to perform at the organization’s annual dinner to celebrate the acquisition of Orlando di Lasso’s Motet Partbooks for the Mendel Music Library. The performance was warmly received and documented in the Friends of the Princeton University Library publications.
Phyllis Alpert Lehrer was recognized for her achievements as a performer, author and teacher and for her nearly five decades of service to Westminster Choir College. Recognized internationally as a performer, teacher, clinician, author and adjudicator, she has presented master classes and workshops, and she has enjoyed an active concert career as a soloist and collaborative artist in the United States, Canada, Central America, Asia and Europe. A founding member of Young Audiences of New Jersey and the International Society for the Study of Tension in Performance, she regularly presents lectures, master classes and performances at major conferences. Her articles, interviews and reviews on piano pedagogy, music and health have appeared in Clavier Companion, The American Music Teacher and The European Piano Teachers Journal.
Laura Brooks Rice was recognized for her innovative spirit, her support for Westminster’s students and her countless contributions to Westminster’s life. Acclaimed on the opera and concert stage for her rich, warm voice, musicality, charm and sensitive acting ability, she is also known as a brilliant teacher who provides students with creative ways to think outside the box and care not only for their instruments, but their minds and bodies as well. Her students have gone on to achieve great success in major national and international competitions, and they are currently singing as regular principal artists at leading opera companies around the world. As the Founder and Co-Director of CoOPERAtive, one of Westminster’s most innovative programs, she has offered aspiring opera singers the opportunity to take the next step in their careers in an environment that is both rigorous and supportive.