Now Scheduling Auditions for Princeton BOYCHOIR!

Schedule your audition NOW by visiting the Boychoir Audition Page

Launching in Fall 2017, Princeton Boychoir is comprised of boys in 4th through 12th grade, placed by audition in one of our two ensembles:

  • Treble Choir - an intermediate level choir of unchanged voices
  • SATB Choir - an advanced level choir of both unchanged and changed male voices

Singers are placed by ability, matching each boy with the choir that best suits his vocal, artistic, and musicianship level through an audition with the artistic staff. Other considerations are maturity, self-discipline, consistency of focus, attitude and leadership.

Thursday is "boys night" at PBC, with both ensembles beginning rehearsals on Thursday, October 19 and continuing through May. Treble Choir meets on Thursdays from 4:45-6:15pm, SATB Choir meets on Thursdays from 6:30-8:30pm. On occasion, the rehearsal times are extended to create an overlap and allow for large group collaboration between the choirs.

We look forward to seeing you at auditions!

Princeton Boychoir

Launched in Fall 2017, Princeton Boychoir is comprised of boys in 3rd through 12th grade, placed by audition in one of our three ensembles:

PGC to Start Boychoir Division

Princeton Girlchoir to Start Boys’ Ensembles Weeks After Closing of American Boychoir
September 6, 2017
By Anne Levin

Read the original article on

When the news broke last month that the American Boychoir School (ABS) was closing its doors after eight decades, an idea that had been percolating among administrators of the Princeton Girlchoir suddenly began to take shape. It wasn’t long before an announcement was made that a Boychoir division was being formed for the Girlchoir’s 2017-2018 season.

“This has been in our long-term sights for awhile,” said Hillary K. Butler, executive director of the Girlchoir. “We had considered doing something for boys in ninth-to-12th grade, since the Boychoir only went to eighth grade. But it was certainly not anything we were contemplating doing this quickly or any time in the near future. And we wouldn’t have done it as long as the Boychoir was around. There wasn’t a need.”

But now that the internationally known American Boychoir is no more, things have changed. The Girlchoir will hold auditions for boys this month and rehearsals are projected to begin in October. Ms. Butler said last week that the first group of boys to join will likely be an intermediate level of unchanged voices, from about fourth grade to middle school range.

The two organizations are different in structure. Founded in 1937 and based in Princeton since 1950, ABS was a full-time choir with boarding and day students in grades four to eight. They rehearsed at least two hours a day. The Girlchoir is an after-school program of seven different choirs, for girls in third through 12th grade. It was founded in 1989.

But the two organizations have shared some staff for years. Fred Meads, the former director of vocal studies at ABS, has worked with the Girlchoir for several seasons and will be leading the male ensembles in the new division. “Fred has been conducting our choirs for six or seven years as well as working with the Boychoir, so there was a clear connection,” Ms. Butler said.

When it became clear that ABS would be folding, “Our first thought was how does this affect our community, and how does this affect the boys who love to sing and for whom this is such an integral part of who they are and what they do?,” Ms. Butler said. “What could we do to help fill this gap? We also knew that people were trying to make plans, and with the school year starting so quickly, we knew we had to make an announcement as quickly as we could.”

As soon as Mr. Meads was on board, administrators for the Girlchoir decided to proceed. “We know this will be a successful program,” Ms. Butler said. “Fred is such a high caliber person and musician, and he attracts people to him. He is so great working with kids.”

In addition to ABS and the Girlchoir, Mr. Meads’ resume includes work with other private schools, churches, and at the collegiate level for the past 25 years. He directed the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir in Indiana for a decade, and has led various honor choirs and all-state choirs in several states. He has presented workshops at Westminster Choir College, among other locations.

Ms. Butler said she isn’t sure how many boys will join the new Boychoir, but those who do will probably sing more mixed-voice music as opposed to just men’s repertoire.

The Girlchoir community is enthusiastic about the idea of boys joining the organization.  “The girls I’ve spoken to are really excited,” Ms. Butler said. “Everybody from parents to members of our board are thrilled we are able to do this for the community. It shows where our organization is growing as a whole. We see opportunities in the future for collaboration, though they will remain as individual divisions. It is a really nice way to balance off of what we have as an organization.”

The end of the ABS “is a loss to the choral community, not just locally but across the country and around the world,” Ms. Butler added. “We know we can never fill that hole of what the Boychoir was, but we want to do our best to provide what we can.”

For information about auditions, call (609) 688-1888 or contact

PGC Announces New Facility in Princeton Junction

We are excited to announce that after 28 years, Princeton Girlchoir will have our own home.

We're moving into a space that will house our rehearsals, retreats and administrative offices - all in a single, dedicated location that is conveniently located near restaurants, shopping and other amenities.

We look forward to welcoming you to our new home at an open house this summer and when we kick off rehearsals for the 2017-18 season in the fall.

Our New Address
231 Clarksville Road
Princeton Junction, NJ 08550

Next Door to three dine in/take out restaurants, a salon/day spa, dry cleaner, and many other small businesses

Close to the public library, Trader Joe's, Quakerbridge Mall, Mercer Mall, Nassau Park Pavilion, MarketFair Mall, and Costco.

Princeton Day School has been a wonderful partner in serving as our musical home since 1989, and we have loved being there. As our organization has grown, we’ve reached a point where we need more space and flexibility, which our own home will provide.

This will be a change for everyone. For some, this location will be more convenient and for others more challenging. We want to help make this transition as smooth as possible for all of our choristers by assisting families in connecting for carpools and providing routing information. We're confident once we've made this transition, you'll love coming home to PGC.

"I am excited about the wonderful possibilities that our new home will offer! We will be able to explore new musical heights while celebrating our love of singing. Together, we will create a space that reflects Princeton Girlchoir, a place where girls make beautiful music, and music makes beautiful girls. What an exhilarating time for PGC!" ~Lynnel Joy Jenkins, Artistic Director

Questions? Read the FAQs or contact

New Home

We are excited to announce that after 28 years, Princeton Girlchoir will have our own home.

Classical Music: Young Musicians

UIS 2017

Classical Music: Jennifer Montone, YOCJ, & Princeton Girlchoir performing this weekend
By Ross Amico | For The Times of Trenton
on January 18, 2017 at 7:00 AM, updated January 18, 2017 at 11:27 AM

For two local organizations that focus on young musicians, the future is now. Three concerts to be performed this weekend, by the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey (YOCJ) and the Princeton Girlchoir, will demonstrate that music is shaping tomorrow today.

On Sunday, YOCJ will present two separate programs at The College of New Jersey's Kendall Theatre. The afternoon program will include performances by its String Preparatory Orchestra, Wind Symphony and Pro Arte Orchestra. The evening program will include performances by the Saxophone Choir and Symphonic Orchestra.

Jennifer Montone will be the soloist for the Symphonic Orchestra concert, performing Emmanuel Chabrier's "Larghetto" for horn and orchestra. Montone is the Principal Horn of the Philadelphia Orchestra. She also teaches at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School. Her recording of Krzysztof Penderecki's Horn Concerto with the Warsaw National Philharmonic was the recipient of a Grammy Award in 2013.

On March 14, Montone will visit West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North to conduct an interactive master class with students and brass ensembles. The master class is free and open to the public.

"Every year it has been our goal to get a high caliber professional artist to come in and be our soloist and to do a master class for the student musicians," says Larisa Epps, President of the YOCJ Board of Trustees. "Mostly we've gotten players from the Philadelphia Orchestra. One year, we had a flutist from the New Jersey Symphony. It's been a nice relationship. We also take the kids to see a Philadelphia Orchestra concert once a year."

YOCJ was founded by Portia Sonnenfeld in 1978 as a preparatory orchestra for the Mercer County Symphony Orchestra (now the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra). Over 200 elementary through high school students make up the orchestra and its performance groups, including two levels for strings, advanced symphonic orchestra, and small ensembles for brass, percussion, and woodwinds. Auditions for new students are held in January, June and September. The next auditions will be held on Jan. 24.

"I'm also a violinist, a private teacher and a mom of children in YOCJ, so I've been a big fan for many years," Epps says. "I've been sending my own private students since 2004. I find it very rewarding, because it's such a worthwhile organization."

Also on Sunday evening, the Princeton Girlchoir will take to the stage at McCarter Theatre Center's Matthews Theatre for its winter concert, "United in Song." The program will bring together the organization's six choirs, which range from the youngest beginners to the most polished pre-collegiate singers.

"Lynnel Joy Jenkins, as the artistic director, will be leading two of the choirs, as well as the combined pieces," says the organization's executive director, Hilary Butler. "Then our three associate directors, Melissa Keylock, Fred Meads and John Wilson, will also be conducting."

According to Butler, the program will include a "wide variety of selections, from classical to folk songs and spirituals, as well as contemporary."

The Princeton Girlchoir offers choral education for girls from grades 3 to 12. The choir was launched in 1989 by Jan Westrick, who retired in 2009 after 20 years of dedicated leadership. What began as an after-school activity for girls with an interest in choral music blossomed into the area's premier training and performance choir for girls.

Through weekly rehearsals, the choristers strive toward a common goal to create a mellifluous ensemble sound. In the process, the singers grow as musicians and individuals, all the while sharing their love of music. The result is not only beautiful music-making, but the kinds of bonds and strengths associated with a positive and memorable team experience.

"This is the largest the choir has ever been," Butler says. "We're excited to have nearly 300 girls who are singing with us this year, and we've invited alumni from around the area to join with us for the concert. Every year, we do at least one work that combines all of our choristers. This year it's a lovely arrangement of 'Bridge over Troubled Water.' As well there's our traditional winter piece that we sing, Benjamin Britten's 'New Year Carol,' when we invite all of the alums in the audience to come up and join in."



What: YOCJ Winter Concerts.

When: Sunday, 3 & 7 p.m.

Where: Kendall Hall, The College of New Jersey, 2000 Pennington Rd., Ewing Township.

How much: $20-$25 (tickets valid for both concerts).



What: Winter Concert, "United in Song."

When: Sunday, 6 p.m.

Where: Matthews Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center, 91 University Place, Princeton.

How much: $15-$30.

Contact: 609-688-1888.

Princeton Girlchoir Members United in Song


Reprinted from the January 18, 2017, issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper
Princeton Girlchoir Members United in Song
by Elaine Strauss

Think about the title “Princeton Girlchoir.” Misleadingly, it appears to name a single ensemble. To the contrary, Princeton Girlchoir is a 285-girl enterprise consisting of six separate choirs, varying in their musical accomplishments and ranging in size from 27 to 71 girls. Artistic director Lynnel Joy Jenkins oversees the operation. “United in Song,” the winter concert combining all six choirs, takes place Sunday, January 22, at 6 p.m. in Princeton’s McCarter Theater. Conductors for the performance include Jenkins, as well as associate conductors Fred Meads, Melissa Keylock, and John Wilson. The entire performance will be recorded and made available as a download from the web.

“I look forward to this concert each year with great anticipation,” Jenkins says. “It is such a joy to experience the girls’ artistry and poise, which is as present in the beginning group, ‘Grace Notes,’ as it is in the most advanced group.”

The January 22 program presents selections by each choir separately and culminates in a joint performance of Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” as well as a performance of Benjamin Britten’s “A New Year Carol” by the combined choirs and alumnae. Instruments included in the concert are percussion, violin, and flute.

Pieces to be performed range from a baroque “Laudamus Te” to area composer Brian Katona’s “I Hear Music,” published in October, 2016, and “Hallelujah,” perhaps the best-known piece by Canadian Leonard Cohen, who died in November. Katona was inspired to write “I Hear Music” by the West Windsor third grade class that his children attended in 2015-’16.

The performance includes texts in English, Hebrew, German, and Latin. Most remarkable, linguistically, is Jim Papoulis’ “Sililiza,” (“Hear Me”), a primarily Swahili text incorporating Spanish phrases.

Choir members range in age from 8 to 18. Selected by audition, they come from more than 75 schools in central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. Participants perform in up to 20 concerts during the year, depending on the level of the choir in which they participate.

At separate weekly rehearsals for each of the choirs from September to May, they master increasingly demanding musical skills as they move on to a more advanced choir. While the Grace Notes, the youngest group, may sing in one of two parts, members of the Semi-Tones, two levels more advanced, sing one of four parts, and the Ensemble, a selected choir, is expected to be able to switch parts.

The Princeton Girl Choir dates from 1989, when Janet A. Westrick, then a member of the music faculty at Princeton Day School, started the group as an after-school activity for a small number of girls interested in choral music. Having retired in 2009, she now serves as parish musician at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Kendall Park and is a member of the board of directors of the Trenton Community Music School. Jenkins succeeded Westrick in the fall of 2009.

Westrick and Jenkins share a background in the child-centered approaches of German pedagogue Carl Orff and Hungarian pedagogue Zoltan Kodaly. Using experiences familiar to young children, the two composers/teachers encouraged creativity by drawing on the links between music and movement. “Orff and Kodaly provide a strong musicianship background,” Jenkins says. “They inspire our teaching techniques to support development musically, vocally, and artistically.”

Jenkins, whose day job is choral teacher at Timberlane Middle School in Pennington, has earned degrees from Temple University and Westminster Choir College of Rider University. Her most recent academic achievement is a doctorate, with a major in choral conducting and a minor in pedagogy, from the University of Arizona, conferred in December, 2016. “The degrees have provided various approaches to choral music making and pedagogy,” she says. “Working at all three institutions has provided a way to enrich my approach to choral conducting.”

As a conductor, Jenkins has directed boy choirs, as well as girl choirs, and finds that there are no significant gender-based musical differences, for the most part. “There are common denominators in boy choirs and girl choirs until the boys’ voices change; then there’s a physical difference,” she says. “Boys and girls in quality choirs share a commitment to their art and craft and to excellence in singing.”

While the sound of particular choirs varies, Jenkins finds that differences depend less on the intrinsic characteristics of the choir participants than on what their leader brings forth. “The sound of a choir varies with the conductor,” she says.

Jenkins likes to cultivate the intrinsic capabilities of voices she deals with, rather than shaping them to meet external criteria. “I aim at the natural beauty of the voice,” she says.

Jenkins searches for sounds that vary from piece to piece. “The sound sought depends on the piece,” she says. “It’s important to cultivate the sound appropriate for each piece. There’s a difference, for instance, between a gospel piece and an aboriginal Australian piece, where a nasal sound is appropriate. And a renaissance piece differs from a contemporary piece.”

Benefits of participating in the Girlchoir extend beyond music, Jenkins believes. The girls develop a trust and respect for each other that is independent of their level of musical accomplishment, she says. “Each fall Quarter Notes, [the choir on the second rung of musical expertise] and the Ensemble [a selected advanced choir] work together to present a program. Both learn from each other. This fall the theme was ‘What a Wonderful World,’ and the Ensemble sang music from the Brazilian rain forest. The younger girls proposed that there be more bird-like sounds in the performance, and the older girls made the change. It was pretty transformational.”

Jenkins was born into a musical family in Philadelphia with a choral director/organist mother married to an auto mechanic. The youngest of four siblings, she says, “Music started at home for us. It was there from the time I was born until now. There was instrumental music, vocal music, and choral music.”

The family is large, close-knit, and supportive, Jenkins says. “There are 40 of us for Thanksgiving. They’re my number-one cheerleaders.”

The family plays a constant role in Jenkins’ sparse spare time. With weekdays committed to teaching and Girlchoir rehearsals, and weekends devoted to performances and Girlchoir administration, she says, “I look for a balance. I want to find quiet time, spend time with my family and friends, and work on my health. It’s a challenge.”

“I try something new every month,” Jenkins says. “This month it’s a hip-hop dance class. I’ve done hiking, kickboxing, and zumba. I go month by month.”

Jenkins finds that reading gives her a respite from her heavy work schedule. “That’s how I unwind,” she says. “Right now, I’m reading a book about choral conducting.” I point out that choral conducting is a professional activity for her. She replies, “Yes, but I didn’t have to write the book.”

Winter Concert: United in Song, Princeton Girlchoir, McCarter Theater, 91 University Place, Princeton. Sunday, January 22, 6 p.m. $15 to $30. 609-688-1888 or


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