By Theresa Evans
Westminster Choir College (WCC) now sits among the best musicians, orchestras and music schools in the world after its induction into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame (Hall of Fame) in June.
“To have Westminster’s mission, our programs and the work of our alumni recognized by our peers is certainly an honor,” said Anne Sears, WCC’s director of external affairs.
Sears represented WCC at the induction in Chicago at Chorus America’s annual conference. She credited Chorus America as “the advocacy, research, and leadership development organization that advances the choral field.”
“It was certainly an honor to represent Westminster Choir College among our peers,” Sears said. “It also gave me the opportunity to illustrate Westminster’s impact on the choral and classical music world.”
Prior to WCC’s induction, Juilliard was the only educational institution included in the Hall of Fame, for 10 years.
“We take pride in joining The Juilliard School as the only educational institution inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame,” said Sears.
According to Sears, WCC has worked with Hall of Fame members for 97 years, including conductor Marin Alsop, pianist Dave Brubeck, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and composer Lukas Foss.
“Westminster is so deserving of this opportunity, and for so many reasons,” said Olivia Coackley, a student mastering in voice pedagogy and performance at WCC. “Our faculty are absolutely world-class, and the students here are so passionate and committed. Nowhere else in the world will you find a school that is performing at such a high caliber of excellence and that has such strong and long-standing connections with major orchestras, conductors, composers and musicians.”
The Hall of Fame’s professional organization advisory council nominated and voted on the inductees.
“The American Classical Music Hall of Fame seeks to build and sustain enthusiasm for classical music in America by celebrating diverse facets of classical music excellence,” said Sears.
Coackley believes that WCC’s induction validates the talent that comes from the institution.
“I personally find it very exciting as a student to see my school recognized at such a high level—especially seeing as the only other educational institution in the American Classical Music Hall of Fame is Julliard,” said Coackley. “I’m definitely proud to be a Westminster student.”
According to Sears, 400 conductors, educators, arts administrators, composers and singers attended the ceremony.
“After accepting the award on behalf of Westminster, I asked the audience members to stand if they had graduated from Westminster Choir College, taken a Westminster continuing education class, attended a Westminster summer camp or studied, worshipped or performed under the leadership of a Westminster graduate,” Sears said. “Nearly all of the people in the audience rose and waved to each other before breaking into a thunderous round of applause. It was a powerful moment.”