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2024 Princeton Festival presents Juneteenth Celebration Honoring Black Choral Music

originally published: 06/09/2024

2024 Princeton Festival presents Juneteenth Celebration Honoring Black Choral Music

(PRINCETON, NJ) -- The Princeton Festival salutes Juneteenth with a Celebration Honoring Black Choral Music on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at 7:00pm on the grounds of Morven Museum & Garden with free community events offered beforehand in partnership with the Municipality of Princeton.

Choral conductor Vinroy D. Brown, Jr. of Westminster Choir College leads a choir drawn from the community and anchored by the Capital Singers of Trenton. The program includes remarks by Union Baptist Church’s Rev. Simeon Spencer and features Robert Ray’s iconic Gospel Mass with additional choral selections highlighting the joy and spirit of Black music.

The full day’s celebration commemorating the Emancipation Proclamation includes these free events:

2024 Princeton Festival presents Juneteenth Celebration Honoring Black Choral Music

1:00pm – A Juneteenth Flag-raising at Monument Plaza in front of the Municipality’s Monument Hall with remarks by Council members Leticia Fraga, Leighton Newlin, and Municipal Administrator Bernard Hvozdovic, Jr. The ceremony will conclude with a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” led by soloists from the Princeton Festival’s 7:00pm performance.

4:00pm – "Let Freedom Ring" Booth – part of the oral history project Voices of Princeton Project, attendees have the opportunity to record their reflections, thoughts, hopes, and dreams for a better America by stepping into an old-fashioned phone booth rigged as a recording studio at Morven’s Stockton Education Center. This program is in partnership with the Witherspoon Jackson Historical and Cultural Society, The Arts Council of Princeton, the Historical Society of Princeton, and the Princeton Public Library.

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4:00pm-7:00pm – Community Celebration – Food by Black-owned business Tipple & Rose and sharing of Juneteenth resources, history, crafts, and education commemorating the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with our community partners: Art Against Racism, The Historical Society of Princeton, Not In Our Town, Princeton, Morven Museum and Garden, The Municipality of Princeton, Passage Theatre , Paul Robeson House of Princeton, The Princeton Public Library and the Voices of Princeton Project , Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, Tipple & Rose, West Windsor Arts Council, and YWCA Princeton. Morven Museum & Garden will be offering free admission to their museum before the concert.

At 7:00pm, the Celebration Honoring Black Choral Music gets underway in the Performance Pavilion on the grounds of Morven. In addition to Robert Ray’s Gospel Mass, the program includes Mark Miller’s “I Believe,” Marques L. A. Garrett’s “Sing Out, My Soul,” traditional spirituals, and James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice & Sing.” Tickets for the Juneteenth Celebration Honoring Black Choral Music start at $10 for adults and $5 for children with group discounts available.

Tickets for the concert and other Princeton Festival performances are available now at or 609-497-0020; youths, ages 5-17, receive a 50% discount.

2024 Princeton Festival presents Juneteenth Celebration Honoring Black Choral Music

Vinroy D. Brown, Jr. (shown above)  is a member of both the Performance Studies and Baccalaureate Honors Program faculty at Westminster Choir College, where he conducts the Westminster Jubilee Singers and previously taught African American Choral Literature. He was a Lecturer of Music in the College of Communication & Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University where he developed their inaugural course in music and social justice. A church musician, he is director of music and worship arts at Elmwood United Presbyterian Church. He is founder and artistic director of Elmwood Concert Singers and is artistic director and conductor of Capital Singers of Trenton. His scholarship elevates the music of the Black experience, women, and living composers, and explores the ways in which music can be used as a tool for social justice and anti-racism in diverse learning communities. He is published in multiple Choral publications and is the curator of the Black Psalmody Database, the first compendium of choral settings of the Psalter by Black composers. He holds a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Temple University, a Master of Arts in Practical Theology degree from Regent University, and Bachelor of Music degrees in Sacred Music and Music Education from Westminster Choir College, and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Music Degree from Temple University.

2024 Princeton Festival presents Juneteenth Celebration Honoring Black Choral Music

Rev. Simeon Spencer (shown above) was a graduate of the University of Alabama whose early career was spent working as a counselor at an alternative rehabilitation program for juvenile offenders. He then moved to Washington D.C., serving as a legislative aide. While working in the nation’s capital, Rev. Spencer acknowledged his call to the Christian Ministry and was licensed to preach by the New Samaritan Baptist Church. He further pursued his call by enrolling in Princeton Theological Seminary, from which he received the Master of Divinity Degree. There he distinguished himself in academics and service and was awarded the Aaron Gast Prize for Urban Ministry. Rev. Spencer now serves as Senior Pastor of the Union Baptist Church in Trenton, New Jersey. During his twelve years of leadership the church has experienced tremendous growth, as the congregation has more than quadrupled in size from a membership of 300 to 1200 persons. A sought after and versatile preacher, Rev. Spencer has ministered in varied forums from the rural south to the chapel of England’s prestigious Rugby School. His ministry, leadership, and contributions to the Trenton community and beyond have been recognized by several community organizations.

The Princeton Festival is the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s flagship summer program showcasing the performing arts. Founded in 2004, the Princeton Festival quickly established a reputation for artistic excellence and innovative programming. Every year in June, thousands of people from the mid-Atlantic region and beyond come to the Festival to enjoy the quality and variety of its programs. Offerings include opera, musical theater, dance, orchestra and chamber music, and a constantly evolving selection of other genres, including jazz, world music, choral concerts, and country music. The Festival has long-standing partnerships with public libraries and local churches, and promotes life-long learning in the arts through free educational lectures presented to a wide and diverse community.

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is a cultural centerpiece of the Princeton community and one of New Jersey’s finest music organizations, a position established through performances of beloved masterworks, innovative music by living composers, and an extensive network of educational programs offered to area students free of charge. Led by Edward T. Cone Music Director Rossen Milanov, the PSO presents orchestral, pops, and chamber music programs of the highest artistic quality, supported by lectures and related events that supplement the concert experience. Its flagship summer program the Princeton Festival brings an array of performing arts and artists to Princeton during multiple weeks in June. Through PSO BRAVO!, the orchestra produces wide-reaching and impactful education programs in partnership with local schools and arts organizations that culminate in students attending a live orchestral performance. The PSO receives considerable support from the Princeton community and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, regularly garnering NJSCA’s highest honor. Recognition of engaging residencies and concerts has come from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the PSO’s commitment to new music has been acknowledged with an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming and a Copland Fund Award. The only independent, professional orchestra to make its home in Princeton, the PSO performs at historic Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University.

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