By Julia Corrigan
Last month, the prestigious Westminster Choir took its annual January tour, this time traveling through four states, from Massachusetts to North Carolina. This tradition of touring during which the choir not only brings high quality music across the country, but also polishes its reputation nationwide, now can continue thanks to the Henry L. Hillman Foundation’s donation of $1 million in memory of Elsie Hilliard Hillman.
Elsie Hillman, the wife of Henry Hillman for 70 years, died on Aug. 4. The donation established the Elsie Hilliard Hillman Endowment Fund in recognition of what would have been Elsie Hillman’s 90th birthday on Dec. 9.
Elsie Hillman graduated from Westminster Choir College in 1948 and is the granddaughter of Katherine Houk Talbott, an important figure in the creation of Westminster Choir College.
“Elsie had great devotion to Westminster Choir College, having attended it and given her family’s longstanding connection to the school,” Henry Hillman said. “She believed that traveling performances by the Westminster Choir were not only beneficial to its student members, but were a wonderful way to bring further recognition to the choir and to Rider University.”
Every January, the Westminster Choir tours for two weeks in a specific region of the United States. Recently, students in the choir traveled to Boston; Long Island, New York; Washington, D.C.; Richmond, Virginia; and Greensboro, North Carolina. Each stop on the tour included concerts and workshops for high school students.
The students returned to New Jersey on Jan. 25, where they performed at Richardson Auditorium on Princeton University’s campus for their annual homecoming concert.
Rider President Gregory G. Dell’Omo was grateful to the Henry L. Hillman Foundation for the gift.
“The Westminster Choir’s annual tours and other off-campus performances offer our students exceptional opportunities for musical growth,” Dell’Omo said. “They also provide a platform for engaging with high school students who are considering a career in music, and connecting with our alumni and friends.”
Many of Westminster’s faculty, including Dean Matthew Shaftel, were honored to have Elsie Hillman’s legacy live on through Westminster’s Choir performances.
“[The Hillman family] has helped us to transform so many lives through such projects as the Elsie Hilliard Hillman Chair for Artistic Direction, endowed scholarships, technology renewal on campus and, most recently, the construction of a new academic building, home of the Hillman Performance Hall,” Shaftel said. “Thanks to the Hillman family’s support, our alumni are able to achieve unparalleled success making an impact on their communities.”