Children Sing Tom Shelton’s Musical “Lost Then Found”

The Children’s Choir musical is always something special – and we can look forward to some delightful surprises on Sunday, February 24, at the 10 a.m. service. Tom Shelton is presenting his own musical, “Lost Then Found.” It is based on three “lost” parables – the Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep, and the Lost Son.

Among the surprises – Tom’s collaborator on this musical is his sister, Camilla Shelton Pruitt. She is director of music at Trinity United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Alabama.

At Princeton UMC Tom is Director of Children’s and Youth Choirs, and at Westminster Choir College he is Associate Professor of Sacred Music. For the Princeton Girlchoir, he directs two ensembles – Grace Notes and SemiTones. He currently serves as the National President of the American Choral Directors Association. Last year he led nine choral workshops in six states. His portfolio ( includes 18 commissioned works, more than 40 songs for children or treble voices, and 15 pieces for mixed or adult voices. In addition to his many other honors, duties, and publications, Tom has begun the new Tom Shelton Choral Series.

The children delighted us on February 4 with a selection from “Lost Then Found,” wearing their green robes, but they look forward to getting their costumes! Top photo: Tom Shelton with (Front row from left) Elizabeth Wong, Elliot Walz, Lily Oesterle. Second row: Isaac Penn, Julianna Collins, Ryan Babler, Phoebe Roth. Third row: Izzy Distase, Aditi Rapaka, Maggie Collins, Julie Potts, Alex Distase. Not pictured: Ethan Hamilton, Ryan Babler, Ivania and Sohela Neto, Mira Sridar.

Singing joy from around the world: Feb 19

A choir from Sumatera Utara, Indonesia will sing in a free concert at Princeton United Methodist Church on Sunday, February 19, at 3 p.m.

Building bridges through choral music…..Princeton and Westminster Choir College of Rider University welcome more than 800 choral singers from four nations and seven states to participate in “Sing ‘N Joy,” a choral festival and competition sponsored by Interkultur.

Everyone is invited to observe competition sessions, lectures and Friendship Concerts at no charge.  Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Many of the events take place at Princeton High’s performing arts center.

On Sunday, February 19 at 3 p.m. Princeton United Methodist Church will host a friendship concert featuring these choruses: 

• ChildrenSong of New Jersey (Haddonfield, NJ, USA)
• Paduan Suara El-Shaddai Universitas Sumatera Utara (Sumatera Utara, Indonesia)
• Liberty North High School Choir (Liberty, MO, USA)
• Shanghai Jiao Tong University Choir (Shanghai, China)
• Vassar College Majors (Poughkeepsie, NY, USA)

Join the Joy!


Confidence – Creativity – Collaboration: Choirs at PUMC



lorie photoParents—PUMC members and non-members–don’t let another year go by without signing  yourr child up for PUMC’s Children’s Choir. Music education is one of the most important developmental programs we offer children and we don’t want you to miss out on this opportunity.

Under the direction of Tom Shelton, Professor of Sacred Music, Westminster Choir College, PUMC’s Children’s Choir offers invaluable musical training. Mr. Shelton is an accomplished choral director, with a long history of conducting children’s choirs in the public schools and directing honors choirs in choral festivals across the country and internationally. He is also very active with choral associations, serving as President elect of the American Choral Directors Association, and selected by the US Choristers Society to teach a webinar on How to Teach Songs to Children’s Choirs, on August 18th. PUMC is very lucky to have a children’s choral director of his caliber.

Under Mr. Shelton’s superb guidance our program develops the highest standards of children’s choral singing. Moreover, it is fun. He makes it fun. The children have a wonderful time singing and performing together and even acting. Part of the musical training at PUMC is musical theatre –a unique element of our program.

It isn’t all just fun and games, however. The children are developing critical life skills through this musical training that will carry them far in life.

In 2008, the President’s  Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) released the findings from a landmark study on arts education (Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future) that “clearly showed the effect of arts education on student academic achievement and creativity.” The report went on to say that “It also became clear that arts education provides a critical benefit to the private sector. To effectively compete in the global economy, business leaders are increasingly looking for employees who are creative, collaborative and innovative thinkers. A greater investment in the arts is an effective way to equip today’s students with the skills they will need to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow.”

SpreadMusicNow Foundation, a private foundation that raises funds for the arts, has developed a memorable moniker for the key benefits of music education: “Confidence. Creativity. Collaboration.” They go on to say that these are just some of the things that improve when a child participates in structured, rigorous music education.”

So, Parents, please don’t miss out on this opportunity to sign your child up for PUMC’s Children’s Choir and give them the gift of music education.

Contact Tom Shelton directly at to learn more about this program.

by Lindsay Diehl

Sing with Us: Meet the Children

Introducing singers from PUMC’s Children’s Choir!

Tom Shelton, director of children’s and youth choirs at Princeton United Methodist Church and  assistant professor at Westminster Choir College. presented a nationally broadcast webinar on Thursday, August 25, at noon for the Choristers Guild, a church music publisher. To prepare the webinar he invited members of the choir to join him in the music room last week.

A sought-after conductor, educator, and composer, Shelton welcomes everyone to his choirs at PUMC; there is no audition and no participation fee. On Wednesday, September 7, Tom Shelton invites children and parents to a Children’s Choir open house at the church, Nassau at Vandeventer, on Wednesday, September 7. Kindergarten and first grade come at 4:30 p.m., second through fifth graders at 5:30 p.m. Youth from grades 6 to 12 are invited to an open house for the Youth Choir, on Sunday, September 11 at 5 p.m.  Parking is free on Sundays; for parking information click here.  Email or call 609-924-2613.

With bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Shelton is assistant professor of sacred music at Westminster Choir College of Rider University and president elect of the American Choral Directors Association. He has conducted ‘all state” and festival choirs in 20 states and abroad, including at Carnegie Hall.

Through music of the Christian faith, PUMC choristers learn good singing techniques and music theory; they participate in worship monthly, present a musical in the spring, and sing at special services throughout the year.

Here’s an example of how they learn:



Choristers at Kemp Festival

Eight children and youth participated in the Kemp Church Music Symposium at Westminster Choir College, reports Tom Shelton, director children’s and youth choirs at PUMC. He attended along with music director Hyosang Park, and he gave one of the workshops. The singers  Rollo Youth 3 Rollo Youth 2 included Leanne and Robin from the children’s choir, and from the youth choir — Andi, Rachel, Delaney, Yannick, Ava, and Blaine.  Choristers from Nassau Presbyterian Church also participated. They were directed by Dr. Rollo Dilworth, a professor at Temple University.

Hyosang Park, solo handbells on 6/7

Hyosang 1

One person, two bells is the usual method for playing handbells. In fact, fewer than a dozen solo handbell artists using four octave handbells concertize in the Eastern United States.

This rare kind of concert will be held on Sunday, June 7, at 4 p.m., when PUMC’s music director, Hyosang Park performs. Hyosang and pianist Akiko Hosaki comprise Duo Grazioso, and they attract wide renown.

Duo Grazioso will also make a special appearance on Saturday, May 9 at 4 p.m. when the ringers from Westminster Choir College will perform. Tickets are $20, $15 for seniors.

Hyosang directs the PUMC handbell choir, which plays for worship on second Sundays. Four ringers from that choir == Anna Gillette, Alex Farkas, Robert Scheffler, and Bill Gardner — will contribute to the June 7th program.

So come and bring your friends and those who love handbells! This concert is free, and the freewill offering will benefit the Ministry Fund.




Christopher McWilliams at the Organ

fantasiaRemember the opening scene from Disney’s Fantasia? With the image of the conductor (Leopold Stowkowski) lifting his arm for the crashing downbeat? That’s J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in d minor, and it’s featured on Christopher McWilliams’ organ recital on Saturday, October 25, at 2 p.m., at Princeton United Methodist Church (PUMC)

McWilliams, the organist at PUMC, will also play selections by  Francois Couperin, Herbert Howells, Marco E. Bossi, and Calvin Hampton. Admission is free; a freewill offering will benefit capital improvements to the church.

Christopher McWilliams A Vermont native, McWilliams has a Bachelor of Music in Piano and Organ Performance and a Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy and Performance from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where he studied with Phyllis Lehrer, Matthew Lewis, and Kenneth Cowan. He teaches private lessons in piano at the Westminster Conservatory of  Music, at PUMC, and in students’ homes, and is a frequent accompanist at the Dutch Neck Presbyterian Church.



Passing the Baton: Yvonne to Tom

yvonne headshot on web now 2011tom-175

This press release announces Yvonne Macdonald’s retirement and Tom Shelton’s appointment as director of music for children and youth

“When children and youth feel what the lyrics are saying, the beauty comes alive,” says Tom Shelton. He is the new director of music for children and youth at Princeton United Methodist Church (PUMC), succeeding Yvonne Macdonald, who retired from that post after 40 years.

“Passing the baton to Tom Shelton is a joy and an honor for me,” says Macdonald. “Easing the transition is my belief that seeds sown over the years both in faith–and in music — are blossoming. I know the choirs are in excellent hands.”

With 22 years of youth choir experience, Shelton has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is assistant professor of sacred music at Westminster Choir College of Rider University and conducts the Princeton Girlchoir’s high school ensemble. He is also a prolific composer and aims to write special pieces for the PUMC choirs, ages three through high school. Shelton will be assisted by Anna de Groot.

Schools can teach character development, says Shelton, “but in church we can teach spiritual values. I encourage each child to relate the essence of the song to a personal experience in their lives.”

“We plan to make no immediate changes to PUMC’s excellent youth music program,” says Shelton.

Located at the corner of Nassau and Vandeventer in Princeton, PUMC is a diverse congregation whose members come from many surrounding communities, backgrounds, and faith histories. For information on joining the PUMC choirs, call 609-924-2613 or or