Five Questions with Paul Carey

Jan 26, 2012

Paul CareyThe Oak Park-based composer’s arrangement of the spiritual “Blin’ Man” will be at our upcoming concert, Wade in the Water

1. What are you listening to on your iPod these days?

Both of the new Grammy-nominated discs by the choir Seraphic Fire from Miami. One is a Christmas CD and the other is the Brahms Requiem in its more intimate piano 4 hands version. I am supposed to review them soon on my choral music blog:

Otherwise I unwind listening to quality Latin jazz.

2.  What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done — musically or otherwise?

Become a father!  Otherwise, climbing a mountain in upstate New York. When I got to the top and my lungs were dying, I met a 75 year old lady basking in the sun—made me feel really out of shape to see her there in apparent ease. But then I found out she had climbed all of the "50 high peaks" at least twice in her life.

3. If I weren't a musician I would be…

a baker (or a candlestick maker, or string bass jazzer).

4. If I could change one thing about classical music…

I would knock down "the fourth wall" as often as possible. Without dumbing down the product, I’d strive to make classical concerts less stuffy, more inclusive, and maybe add door prizes, chainsaw jugglers, and a dancing platypus to the show.

5. A musician or composer people might not know about but should is…

Tarik O'Regan, a great composer currently in NYC (originally from UK). Also the violist/madman Yuri Bashmet.

Thanks for asking, Chicago a cappella!

Gala Program Book Ads

Jan 23, 2012

You can reach Chicago a cappella's active and highly educated audience with a message in this year's Gala benefit program book.  The event, ComeTogether, is a benefit bash featuring the music of Lennon & McCartney at the antique wonderland known as Salvage One on May 17, 2012.  Advertise your business, or congratulate our honorees: John Vorrasi (of the William Ferris Chorale), the Arts and Business Council of Chicago, and Joan Gunzberg.

More information about our program ads is available here - or call us (773) 281-7820.

Chicago a cappella’s Inaugural Youth Choral Festival

Jan 17, 2012

This exciting choral festival brings small ensembles from Chicago-area high schools together with Chicago a cappella's professional singers and directors for a day of workshops, singing and performing at no cost to participating schools and students.  This non-competitive festival will culminate in a free concert for the public featuring all of the groups, including Chicago a cappella, singing alone and as a large festival choir.  The 2012 Chicago a cappella Youth Choral Festival will take place on March 10 at the Athenaeum Theater in Chicago.  This year's participating ensembles are Sounds of Sweetness from Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, Bazao from Evanston Township High School and Bel Canto from University of Chicago Laboratory High School.  Please join us for the free public Youth Choral Festival Concert at 5 pm to watch and support these talented young singers!

Youth Choral Festival Concert
Saturday, March 10, 2012
5:00 PM
Athenaeum Theater
2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, IL

Free tickets available at the door

“Holidays a cappella” on WFMT 98.7 FM

Dec 11, 2011

98.7 WFMTChicago a cappella's recent Holidays a cappella concert will be heard on a special radio broadcast on Christmas Day on WMFT Radio (98.7 FM) in Chicago.  The 8:00 pm (CST) broadcast will also be available via WFMT's live audio stream, so please tell your friends and relatives around the country to tune in. 

High School Internship Program 2012

Nov 1, 2011

Calling all high school singers!  Ever dream of singing on stage with Chicago a cappella?  Here's your chance!

Announcing the 2012 Chicago a cappella High School Internship Program!   We are looking for a talented and dedicated group of high school singers to serve as High School Interns from January-May of 2012.  Our High School Interns will receive one-on-one mentorship from CAC singers and directors, observe parts of CAC rehearsals, sing as a small intern ensemble, perform on stage with CAC and learn about arts administration from our staff.  Auditions for the Intern Program will be on December 10th from 1-3pm at the Athenaeum Theater, and interested applicants must contact Susan Schober, Education Outreach Coordinator, before December 2nd to reserve a spot. Spots are filling quickly, so reserve your spot ASAP!

Bonus: All intern applicants will receive a free ticket to a Chicago a cappella concert!  For more information on the program or to download the Intern Information and Application kit, visit our Education Outreach page.

Radio Appearances

Sep 26, 2011

Chicago a cappella has been on the radio lately!   First, 98.7 WFMT broadcast our performance from the Spertus Institute celebrating the release of our new CD of Jewish music, Days of Awe and Rejocing: Radiant Gems of Jewish Music.  That program aired Wednesday, Sept. 28.  Then Chicago a cappella made a live "Impromptu" appearance on Monday, October 3, at 1:00 pm (CDT).  The ensemble sang excerpts from Days of Awe and Rejoicing, in celebration of the Jewish High Holidays and as a preview of the remaining concert performances. 

And the group was also the guest of WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio, for their program "Eight Forty-Eight" on September 27.    If you missed that show, you can still hear it online.

New season brochure: tell us what you think

Aug 16, 2011

We hope you have received our 2011-12 season brochure in the mail.  We’d love to hear your feedback about it!  Tell us what you think by posting a comment below about the new brochure (or email us or call 773-281-7820 to request a copy).

Plus, you can help us maintain our records (and save a tree!) by letting us know about any duplicates or misspellings.  Just email or call 773-281-7820. Thanks in advance for your help!

CD Release Event

Jun 20, 2011

We are thrilled to announce the official release of our new CD, Days of Awe and Rejoicing: Radiant Gems of Jewish Music, on September 18.  You are invited to a special event at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, where artistic director Jonathan Miller will discuss the music and the ensemble will perform selected songs as a preview.  Following the discussion-performance, join the entire ensemble for a reception and CD signing.  A copy of the CD is included in the admission to the reception event.  Reservations ($50) available only through the Spertus Institute.  Seating is limited, so make your reservation today!  Call 312.322.1773 or make your reservation online.   

Then make plans to hear the entire program at our season-opening concert performances of Days of Awe and Rejoicing: Radiant Gems of Jewish Music (Sept. 25-Oct. 22).

A Seal of Approval for Good A Cappella Tuning?

May 24, 2011

We received an interesting invitation (a sales pitch, really) the other day from an organization called  Their stated mission is to certify recordings (with gold stickers!) that have been vetted as having had "No Artificial Tuning" on the main vocals.  The RealSing Collective asserts as follows:  "Real singers, those who don't rely on vocal pitch correction and Auto-tune technology deserve advocates and a means to be identified, elevated and separated from the rest of the imposters. RealSing Collective informs the listening public about the creative and authentic counterpoint to vocal pitch correction, a misleading and now common practice. This should be music to everyone's ears."

My question to you is this:  in the classical-music world, would such a certification make any sense?  While on the face of it, RealSing has limited relevance to the way Chicago a cappella sings, we thought you might have something to say on the topic.  What are your feelings about the advantages and disadvantages auto-tuned vocals, or otherwise "artificially" processed singing on recordings? Let us know what you think, and we'll moderate your replies here. Let us hear from you!

Tunefully yours,

Jonathan Miller

“Chicago, Chicago”:  an annotated program list

Feb 28, 2011

Chicago, Chicago is a new concert program tracing the history of our great city through song.  Artistic Director Jonathan Miller provides this sneak preview of the songs included, along with some historical background for each:

Chicago, Chicago
April 2011


Traditional Fr. Canadian, arr. Miller: C'est l'aviron
This is a song of the French voyageurs who explored the Great Lakes, including what is now Chicago, and traded with Native Americans;  it was sung as early as the 1690s and was one of the most popular songs at the settlement of Michilimackinac, now Mackinac Island.  The song sings of "going up," which is what they called paddling from "Lower Canada" (Montreal and Toronto, along the St. Lawrence) to "Upper Canada" (points west).  Read more about the early fur trade around Chicago.

Traditional, arr. Bustin/Dalglish/Larsen/Miller:  Shawneetown
Before Chicago became a huge metropolis, the way most Anglos traveled to Illinois was down the Ohio River, where they would cross at Shawneetown or Shawnee Ferry.  This is a folksong from the Ohio Valley, telling people about life on the river, floating down and paddling back up to pursue trade, including the narrator's three women in different ports!

Traditional, arr. Zanzig: El-A-Noy
Like any area wanting to grow, Illinois had its early "boosters," who wrote this song painting an idyllic picture of the state's glories.  The verse about the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon visiting the state is hilarious.   Read the complete lyrics to El-a-Noy.


Barry Moore, arr. Nick Page: City of Chicago
The Irish immigrants came in waves following the Great Potato Famine.  This is a recent folksong about the Irish coming to Chicago and what they endured, both on the journey and when they got here.

Johannes Brahms: Die Wollust in den Maien
Germans were one of the major immigrant groups in Chicago's early history. This is a song that would likely have been performed by their many singing societies.  

Spiritual, arr. Allan Koepke: Follow the drinking gourd
The Chicago area, including Maywood and Graue Mill in what is now Hinsdale, were stops on the Underground Railroad. This is a slave song/spiritual that helped to tell runaway slaves how to get across the Ohio River to freedom.

Arr. Anne Heider: Lincoln and Liberty
Abe Lincoln's 1860 campaign featured this charming political song, which refers to Illinois residents as "suckers"—describing their migratory patterns of work, not calling them chumps!  See the Wigwam, site of the 1860 convention that nominated Lincoln.

George F. Root: Passing Through the Fire
Chicago became a center of music publishing even before the Great Fire, and George Root was both a composer and a hugely successful publisher. He wrote this sentimental ballad while the city was in mourning and recovering from the Fire of 1871.

Samuel Ward and Katharine Lee Bates, arr. Deke Sharon: America the Beautiful
As the city emerged into greatness, this song became an emblem of national pride;  the verse about "alabaster cities' gleam" refers to the White City in the Columbian Exposition of 1892-93.

Norworth and Von Tilzer, arr. Anne Heider: Take me out to the ballgame
People gotta have fun!  This jaunty setting by Anne Heider incorporates all of Jack Norworth's original lyrics.  Root for the Cubbies!


Jerry Troxell, text of Carl Sandburg:  Prayers of Steel
Carl Sandburg wrote odes to skyscrapers, and Jerry Troxell's haunting composition perfectly illuminates Sandburg's awe at beholding the stark urban beauty of Chicago's new downtown area.

Fred Fisher, arr. Miller: Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)
The great tune popularized by Sinatra gets a new a cappella setting here, including all of the original words.



Lovie Austin, arr. J. Miller: Chicago Bound Blues
Chicago has become synonymous with the blues.  This is a song made popular by Bessie Smith, in a new a cappella version, the lament of a woman left behind in Mississippi.

Thomas Dorsey, arr. Sevier: Precious Lord
In the 1930s, Thomas A. Dorsey created gospel music, and this is his most famous song, in a stunning arrangement by Chicago's own Arnold Sevier.

Traditional Mexican, arr. Deke Sharon: La Bamba
The large Mexican-American community in Chicago began to grow in earnest after 1910.  "La Bamba" is one of the songs that has been sung here since concerts by Mexicans in Chicago began.

Al Capone, arr. Sinozich: Madonna Mia
You won't find this anywhere else in town—the only song that Al Capone ever wrote!  He wrote it in Alcatraz, apparently as a love song to his wife.  A Chicago a cappella original arrangement!

Jerry Downs (Al Hoffman), arr. J. Miller: Bear Down, Chicago Bears
The great fight song, in celebration of the Bears' most recent success, making it to the playoffs in early 2011.

Lamm, arr. Herberg: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
The band Chicago was a huge success in the 1970s, and this is one of their most famous songs, in a new a cappella arrangement.

Mancini/Bricusse, arr. Sinozich: “Chicago, Illinois” (from Victor/Victoria)
The film (and later stage) musical starring Julie Andrews featured this boisterous celebration of the city "Chic."


Join us April 1-10, 2011, for this remarkable musical tour of The Windy City!  Tickets and information.

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