By Tom Regan
Westminster Choir College (WCC) put together an “Ode to Joy” concert on Jan. 25 in celebration of philanthropist and musician William H. Scheide’s 100th birthday, which raised approximately $500,000 for WCC.
He and his wife, Judith Scheide, supporters of the arts, have given generous donations to WCC as well as to other neighboring college music and arts programs.
“We want people to hear music,” Judith Scheide said.
William Scheide has been heavily involved with the WCC community throughout his career, serving
on the board of trustees for 27 years, including the nine years he served as the chairman.
Judith Scheide loves that Westminster has been able to continue a tradition of music education.
“Westminster shows that people can act in harmony and in the service of others,” she said. “I think that is the most important thing.”
The concert, held on the Princeton University campus in front of a sold-out crowd, featured the Westminster Symphonic Choir; the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, led by Mark Laycock; vocal soloists Ah Young Hong, Leah Wool, William Burden and Mark S. Doss; and pianists Mariam Nazarian and Andrew Sun.
In recognition of Scheide’s lifelong love of Bach, the concert included a movement from Cantata BWV 140, as well as Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and the Prelude for Piano Four Hands, composed by Scheide as a student. It culminated in Beethoven’s Symphony No.9, with its famous
final movement from which the concert drew its name.
Judith Scheide described the entire experience as wonderful, especially the moment when Nazarian and Sun performed the piano piece, written in 1936 by William Scheide when he was a senior in college.
The concert concluded with the Symphonic Choir and Vienna Chamber Orchestra’s rendition of Happy Birthday in honor of William Scheide, a song he described as, “the best happy birthday he’s ever heard.”
Throughout William Scheide’s 100 years, his love for music has never wavered, as well as his belief in remaining physically fit. He begins his daily routine with music, which usually consists of Bach compositions.
“Music centers his life,” Judith Scheide said. “He exercises and plays piano everyday.”
The concert brought joy to both the Scheides and the audience, all while raising money for Westminster. The proceeds will be used to help renovate Westminster’s Playhouse.
“We’re getting a new building, which is very exciting,” said Bess Ploener, a junior voice performance major and member of the Westminster Symphonic Choir. “It’s going to be great for performance, another place where students can go perform.”
After enjoying music for a century, William Scheide and his wife have one wish for the future: that the beautiful language of music continues to be a vital part of conveying feeling and emotion to the world.
“We hope it continues to fill people and their minds with beautiful things,” Judith Scheide said.