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 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. So far this season, our Fall Semester 2022 saw the ECC’s triumphant return to the Evanston Symphony Holiday Concert this December in addition to our usual appearance at the annual Evanston Holiday Tree Lighting, and culminated in our own smashingly-successful Holiday Concert–our first full Holiday Concert in 3 years! Our Winter/Spring Semester 2023 will feature our Orchestra Hall debut, performing Hector Berlioz’s Te Deum with the Symphony of Oak Park & River Forest and combined choirs in April. In another exciting twist, to balance that classical work, for the rest of its repertoire the Concert Choir will be working on a special project exploring choral arrangements of pop/rock favorites, with live band accompaniment. Our residency at Pope John XXIII School continues, and we are anticipating the continued re-growth of our Youth Chorale Pops program. 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) and the Pope John XXIII School Choir (grades 3-6). You can read more about each Choir here.
Registration is underway for Winter/Spring Semester 2023, beginning the week of January 9th. 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.
Well done! I’m glad you’re challenging the kids. It’s amazing what they’re capable of.
You will be blown away by the Children’s Choir! What a wonderful, positive experience for boys and girls. It really raises self-esteem. My daughter is obtaining a love for music, exposure to many diverse musical styles, the great satisfaction of being part of a successful group…one voice contributing to make beautiful music.
The choir has been such a fabulous experience for Tess. She has grown so much through working with you.
Thanks for a great first time choir experience. The kids are loving it.
Thank you again for your philosophy of your program. It is all so human, full of grace, respect, and brilliance.
Practices are intense, as the material is difficult, but clearly they are very satisfying, as your singers look happy, confident and engaged. Singing beautifully in at least 4 languages? No problem!
My kids are have a fantastic time singing in the [Evanston] Children’s Choir. They love singing songs from various cultures in a group that reflects Evanston’s wonderful diversity.
Our family was invited to see the ECC by a friend in the choir. My jaw dropped. To hear kids from their teens to as young as 7 singing complex rhythms and harmony in multiple languages blew me away. I was so moved and so was my son, and we signed him up to audition right away.
I am so impressed with the [Evanston] Children’s Choir and its enthusiastic director. My son was reluctant to begin and Gary has made him feel very comfortable and enjoy himself and best of all, sing well! It has been a joy to be a part of the choir family these last few years.
The choir is comprised of public, private and homeschooled children and that diversity of experience has been very enriching for my daughter.
What you do really lifts the community in so many ways. I’m deeply grateful for you and your work.
I am impressed with the energy of the directors and the kids in the choir. My daughter comes home totally invigorated.
ECC has developed my daughter’s passion for singing! We applaud the fun and developmentally-appropriate way in which cultural sensitivity, self-expression, and sense of community is incorporated into the choirs. We have now joined a new family!
The kids, and specifically our Elle, really enjoy your program and how you instruct them.
The Evanston Children’s Choir provided me with a place to hone my teaching skills in a supportive environment in which every person is valued and appreciated. The children are given boundless opportunity, and as a result, they accept the challenge and achieve high levels of success, having a blast the whole time.
The ECC is a cultural treasure to Evanston.
The Evanston Children’s Choir reflects the very best of what Evanston is all about: Quality, celebrating diversity in all its many forms, commitment to an artistic vision of inclusion and beauty. The ECC choirs have established themselves as mainstays of the Evanston musical landscape. Bravo!
Your work is wonderful!
The Evanston Children’s Choir is a wonderful organization. Especially during these times of reduced school choral programs, the training they offer their singers is invaluable. Gary Geiger is a passionate advocate for high-quality music in the lives of young people. Our audiences always enjoy hearing their committed performances of exciting repertoire.