Who We Are
The Evanston Children’s Choir is a dynamic platform for "diversity in harmony," creating a transformative experience for young choir members from all walks of life and their varied audiences across Chicagoland. With a commitment to inclusion and accessibility, positive energy and mutual respect, the ECC enables children and young adults grades 1 through 12 to find their voices through several strong, supportive ensembles—ensembles with a solid and growing reputation for musical excellence. Our core program is an after-school treble choir program, accepting young people grades 1 through high school from all over the Greater Chicago area. We sing all types of both secular and sacred music, with an emphasis on multiculturalism. We strive to make the choir as accessible as possible, both to new members and to our audience. Accordingly, we do not turn any child away because of money, and we offer our outreach performances and self-produced concerts free of charge.
The ECC has performed in major venues including the Rosemont Theatre, Evanston’s Alice Millar Chapel, and the Harris Theater in Chicago’s Millennium Park. The ECC has grown from a mere three (3) singers at its inception to a multi-tiered program that continues to expand. ECC ensembles are regularly sought after for collaborations and have shared the stage with the likes of the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, the Evanston Symphony, Barry Manilow, S.O.U.L. Creations, the Chicago Philharmonic, the Ondas Ensemble and the North Shore Choral Society. All the while, since its founding in 2002, the ECC has remained committed to its roots, serenading Evanstonians young and old in free outreach performances at schools and community centers.
Our Recent Journey:
Our 2020-2021 Season was highlighted by the production of two recorded “virtual concerts.” As remarkable as those turned out, we were still chomping at the bit to get back to live performing in our 2021-2022 Season. We were hoping to see our groups grow again and things start to return to some semblance of “normal.” Little did we know the turmoil we would have to weather as an organization during our 20th anniversary season before our ultimate triumph this spring. Enrollment dropped yet again, as people were still wary of the risks of singing in covid times. Our Story and Family Choirs folded, while our Concert Choir and Youth Chorale Pops fought to keep things alive with a mixture of small in-person rehearsal groups plus lots of singers on Zoom. In a glimmer of hope, we actually gave a live performance at Evanston’s Holiday Tree Lighting last December (the first time we even got the whole Concert Choir together was right before our performance!). We were then ready to present our Holiday Concert, our first major concert in 2 years, when... Omicron. It spiked sky-high that very weekend. Concert canceled. Things were not looking good.
After our winter break, we rebooted in January. We had never had any covid outbreaks from our in-person rehearsal groups since the start of the pandemic (still haven’t!) so we made the decision to switch back to single-group in-person rehearsals for our Choirs, with a Zoom stream for those not quite ready. To our delight, singers started coming back. And two more choirs were added to the mix. The Wilmette Pops Children’s Chorale, run by us in partnership with the Wilmette Park District, re-started with live rehearsals after a long covid-induced hiatus. And the ECC started a brand new residency at Pope John XXIII School in Evanston, forming an in-school choir there for grades 3-6.
The months following were rejuvenating. The enthusiasm around the new Pope John XXIII School Choir was unbelievable, from the students, parents and administration alike. Word steadily spread about Wilmette Pops. And more students returned to sing in-person with our Youth Chorale and Concert Choir, as each group started to remember what it was like to be a “real choir.” By the time our Spring Concert came around in May, we were ready. And not only did this concert happen, but the atmosphere was electric. Our singers poured their hearts and souls into a performance that blew everyone away, beyond all expectations. Even we directors, and even our recording technician, couldn’t believe what we were hearing! Our Pope John XXIII School Choir gave a rousing debut with a confidence as though they were seasoned veterans. Our Youth Chorale Pops displayed musicianship and polish well beyond anything in recent memory. Our Concert Choir showed that they had returned entirely to pre-pandemic form against all odds. And Concert Choir was not done yet. They had the honor and privilege of being invited to sing composer Stacy Garrop’s masterful oratorio Terra Nostra with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago at their 150th anniversary concert in June. We have never been more proud of our singers as they gave a stellar, world class performance in one of the biggest concerts we’ve ever been a part of.
Our recent trajectory leaves us feeling good, with a lot to look forward to. Our 2022-2023 Season will see the ECC’s return to the Evanston Symphony Holiday Concert this December, plus our Orchestra Hall debut performing Hector Berlioz’s Te Deum with the Symphony of Oak Park & River Forest and Pro Musica Youth Chorus in April. Pope John XXIII School has renewed the program there for another full year, and we are anticipating growth in our Wilmette Pops and Youth Chorale Pops programs. There is much more to come, so stay tuned!
And now for a note of gratitude: The support shown for our program the past few seasons in the face of daunting circumstances has been simply unparalleled, and we are deeply grateful to our ECC families and the surrounding community. Continuing activities like this that enrich our lives and feed our souls in the face of great adversity are a triumph of the human spirit. We need this now more than ever, and we're still doing this simply because we can't not do it. If you feel the same way, we invite you to join us. But no matter what you do to pull yourself through these challenging times, stay positive and just keep going. May you persevere, and even thrive, in whatever it is you do!
Our primary rehearsal location is the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., Studio 107, in Evanston. The ECC's Choirs for the 2022-2023 Season are: Concert Choir (advanced), Youth Chorale Pops (beginner-intermediate), the Wilmette Pops Children's Chorale (beginner-intermediate), and the Pope John XXIII School Choir (grades 3-6). You can read more about each Choir here.
Registration for the 2022-2023 Season is now open! For more information, or to schedule a Concert Choir audition, email Artistic Director Gary Geiger or call (847) 733-0814. You may also find our Join Us page helpful.
The Evanston Children's Choir has received the Mayor's Award for the Arts.
The ECC is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.