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Accompanying all the new and returning students to both campuses this fall are several new Pingry faculty and staff. 

In Our Own Words: Samantha Burak '20 and Sejal Patel '23

Selected from among choirs across the country, Coriste of the New Jersey Youth Chorus (NJYC)* had the honor of performing at The White House's Holiday Open House on December 3—among the 50-member ensemble were Samantha Burak '20 (pictured left) and Sejal Patel '23 (pictured right), both of whom sing with Pingry's Balladeers and Glee Club, and Ainsli Shah '23.

Samantha Burak '20
Second year singing with NJYC

Being able to perform at The White House in my senior year of high school with the New Jersey Youth Chorus was such an amazing experience. After a four-hour bus ride to Washington, D.C., we went to The White House Visitor Center, where we were able to see all of the exhibits, and then we headed for The White House. Walking in, I was amazed by all of the decorations and lights that had been set up to celebrate the holiday season. A staffer escorted all 50 of us to the East Room—a huge event and reception room filled with Christmas trees and many other decorations. We sang carols and other holiday-themed music for two hours as visitors to The White House walked by. At the end, we got to see all of the other rooms and take pictures. This experience of being able to visit, and even get to perform inside, The White House was really special, and is something that I will always remember fondly.

Sejal Patel '23
Eighth year singing with NJYC

I had the most insane time performing at The White House. It was the most elegant setting I've ever sung in, with all of the giant Christmas trees and decorations set up all around for the Open House. The room where we sang was big and breathtaking, and it is amazing to think about who has sung in the same place. With the painting of George Washington and other presidents behind us, it made us all click into the reality that we really were singing in The White House. The highlight for me was that I composed a trio for my two friends and me to sing, based on the song "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"—it has the same words and same melody, but I wrote two other parts. I was nervous at first, stepping forward with them while all of these important, invited guests walked through the room, but being surrounded by my choir sisters made it a lot less scary. We sang our trio, and it sounded stunning, especially with the beautiful scenery around us. It was so special to have sung something I composed with my two great choir sisters. Singing at The White House is something I will never forget and will remember as one of the greatest days of my life because, well, we sang at The White House!

*Coriste is NJYC's top performing choir for high school girls.

Contact: Greg Waxberg '96, Communications Writer and Editor of The Pingry Review