A Chicago Children’s Choir made history when they got an opportunity to go to Italy and perform. There were scheduled for a nine day performance from July 4 to July 13 across several cities in Italy. The choir visited six different cities and made several stops including in the world renowned Ravello and Ravenna music festivals.
Josephine Lee is the choir’s president and artistic director. 69 singers who are aged between 13 and 18 came together from different elite groups under the Choir’s Voice of Chicago participated. Performing as a band, they included individuals working on the bass, piano, guitar, drums and keys. There were parents and staff chaperones who accompanied the group.
The teenagers have performed in other countries including India and Cuba. They perform an eclectic mix that includes choral works by Leonard Bernstein and Sergei Rachmaninoff, opera, music from the Middle East and South Africa and spiritual songs from Leonard Cohens to Justin Timberlake’s, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield and Michael Jackson.
In June, the choir performed at the Symphony Center alongside the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a program that was conducted by maestro Riccardo Muti.
This was the third time the group was going to Italy and the Choir’s President said it was due to the strong connection they had with Italy. They worked with Erasmo Figini, the owner of Cometa, a beautiful hotel in the Lake Como region who fosters children and has a school that teaches children on the arts and music.
Music is one of the ways people of different cultures are able to connect and Muti uses this opportunity to teach young people such the one’s in the Chicago Children’s Choir. The singers in the choir memorize all the music including the songs that are in foreign languages. One of the rules of participating in this choir is that one has to study music and have movement skills for the choreographed performances.
They performed at Teatro Alighieri in Ravenna, Chiesa di San Giacomo in Forli located in northern Italy, Castello Rocchetta Mattei in Porretta, near Bologna. Finally, they performed at Ravello Festival which is one of the oldest music festivals in Italy. This year’s Ravello’s festival was held at the Amalfi Coast which is popularly referred to as ‘the city of music’.
The choir interacted with locals in Ravenna who are mostly immigrants and they hiked in the San Benedetto in Alpe before taking the singers to see refugees who are housed by the government.
The Chicago Children’s Choir was founded in 1956 by Reverend Christopher Moore and its mission was to “to connect voices across the city”. At the moment, there are several different programs in the choir that serve 4,600 youth in the Chicago area. The choir has lived through the years to achieve Reverend Moore’s belief of “uniting youth from diverse backgrounds to become global citizens through music.” In addition to the Voice of Chicago Touring ensemble, the choir includes in-school choirs in 80 city schools around the 10 neighborhoods of Chicago