Community Outreach

Chicago a cappella’s Educational Outreach programming strives to promote and improve the life-long performance, understanding and appreciation of  ensemble singing.

Youth Choral Festival

¡Cantaré! Chicago

Custom outreach programs

Non-profit community partner program

Recent outreach programs

Fan mail


Youth Choral Festival

This exciting choral event brings choral ensembles from Chicago-area high schools together with Chicago a cappella's professional singers and directors for a day of workshops, rehearsals, discussion sessions, and performing. This non-competitive festival provides an inspiring day of learning from professionals and meeting students from other schools, both city and suburban. 

Plans for the 2020-21 Youth Choral Festival are now underway!  To inquire about participation or get more information on this unique festival, please contact Education Outreach Coordinator Matt McNabb.

¡Cantaré! Chicago

Originally developed in Minneapolis by renowned musical organization VocalEssence, ¡Cantaré! is a unique program designed to bring the talents of composers from Mexico directly into Chicago classrooms.  This cross-cultural program creates a deeper understanding of Mexican cultural traditions and enhances the musical skills of Chicago-area students.

¡Cantaré! Chicago places Mexican composers in Chicagoland schools to serve as composers-in-residence. The program  serves both high school choirs and elementary school music classes. The composers work hand-in-hand with teachers and their students, writing new choral works specifically for each group and teaching the students about the music and culture of Mexico.  Each residency will be customized to meet the needs of the partner school's curriculum as well as take advantage of the talents of the composer.  In addition to residencies, Chicago a cappella will offer a resource guide and companion CD that will address social, historical and cultural contexts of Mexican choral music, which teachers can use as a springboard for integration into their school curriculum.  The program will culminate in a free community concert where all school choirs and Chicago a cappella perform their new works. 

More information about ¡Cantaré! Chicago is available here.  If you are interested in participating in this program, contact Education Outreach Coordinator Matt McNabb.

Sponsorship opportunities for ¡Cantare! Chicago available here.

¡Cantaré! Chicago is a partner program of VocalEssence ¡Cantaré! based in Minneapolis, MN.  This program is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Custom Outreach Programs

Chicago a cappella’s Education Outreach Program seeks to serve singers and students of all ages and levels of experience. All of our programs are taught by Artists from Chicago a cappella’s roster of singers and directors, many of whom have degrees in music education. All of our Artists have experience working with singers/choruses at a variety of experience levels. Each outreach program is individually planned and carefully tailored to fit the exact needs of each organization, and may include access to Chicago a cappella rehearsals and concerts. Our offerings include:

Master Classes

These workshops are administered by two or more Chicago a cappella artists and usually last between 60-120 minutes. Repertoire can be chosen by, or in conjunction with, Chicago a cappella’s artists. Master classes are typically relaxed in nature and allow for questions at the end. Observers are always welcome.

Choral Residencies

These residencies with school or community choirs serve as an introduction to a cappella singing for musicians new to the genre or as a source of expert training for more experienced singers. Residencies can be either short-term (3-5 visits) or long-term (typically 8-12 visits), and often focus on specific repertoire and skill building. Each visit is sequentially designed to complement the goals of the choral director and/or school curriculum and can be during or after the school day.

Non-profit Community Partner Program

In conjunction with certain concerts, Chicago a cappella partners with exceptional non-profit organizations which serve the community surrounding one of our concert locations. The organizations are honored on our concert stage and a representative takes a few minutes to educate our audiences about the extraordinary work they do in their community. 

Recent Outreach Programs

In recent seasons, Chicago a cappella has worked in a number of settings to engage singers in our community, expose them to professional choral music and mentor the next generation of choral singers.

Senn Arts Magnet Program at Senn High School, Chicago, IL: Chicago a cappella partnered with the Senn Arts Magnet Program to create an a cappella ensemble with their students in the spring of 2015. Chicago a cappella Artists collaborated with the Senn director and his students during our ten week residency, working with them on challenging Chicago a cappella repertoire and coaching them on small group vocal technique and self-direction. This successful partnership culminated in a stunning performance in the school’s auditorium at Senn Arts Night. Chicago a cappella was asked back in the fall of 2015 to work with two groups of students, one curricular and one extra-curricular, expanding our reach within the school. The Fall 2015 residency culminated with the students’ participation in Chicago a cappella’s 2015 Youth Choral Festival.

Potomac School Madrigal Singers, Potomac, MD: Chicago a cappella Founder and Artistic Director Jonathan Miller led a master class as part of the choir's Chicago tour focusing on vocal blend, breathing techniques, tempo, dynamics and vocal expression. The workshop took place in the beautiful Gottlieb Hall at the Merit School of Music, and included a Q&A session with Jonathan Miller and Education Outreach Coordinator Susan Schober.

Whitney Young High School, Chicago, IL: Chicago a cappella has created two long-term residencies at the school. Over ten weeks, Chicago a cappella Artists guided a newly-formed group of Whitney Young’s best singers from their first rehearsal to a successful final performance of challenging Chicago a cappella repertoire. The students gained invaluable experience in rehearsal technique, jazz and instrumental vocal technique, small ensemble a cappella singing and self-direction. The residency residency was so successful that we were invited back for an extended 14-session residency the following year.

Rocky Mountain Children’s Choir, Denver, CO: Chicago a cappella presented a master class workshop during the choir's tour to Chicago, addressing aspects of a cappella small ensemble singing such as intonation, choral blend, balance, vocal timbre and self-direction (working without a conductor). The workshop concluded with a Q&A session with the Chicago a cappella Artists.

Roll, Jordan, Roll Choral Collaborations, Chicago, Oak Park, Naperville and Evanston, IL: Chicago a cappella welcomed a high school choral group as guest ensemble at each of the four performances of its concert Roll, Jordan, Roll: The Spiritual, Old and New. The student groups came together for a joint rehearsal in Chicago with Chicago a cappella’s singers, and were coached by Chicago a cappella’s artistic and music directors. Each student group sang several spirituals as part of the series concert in their community, and was joined by the singers of Chicago a cappella for a joint spiritual performance. 


Naperville North High School, Naperville, IL: As a business partner of Naperville School District 203, Chicago a cappella worked with the choral students at Naperville North High School over the course of the school year. In the fall, the school's Madrigal Ensemble rehearsed a piece with the women of Chicago a cappella and then performed it with them—along with several pieces from their own repertoire—at Chicago a cappella's holiday performance at Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville. Then in February, Chicago a cappella Artists worked with several of the school's choirs in sectional settings. In March, Chicago a cappella performed several pieces on the Naperville North stage as part of the school’s Choral Concert, and as part of the concert finale joined the school’s singers on stage for a special joint performance. In addition to in-school workshops and choral performances, as part of this special program students from Naperville North High School received free tickets to Chicago a cappella's concerts at Wentz Concert Hall for the entire concert season.

Fan Mail

"I just wanted to thank you, again, for sharing your music and talent with our singers last week. It was definitely a highlight for those kids. You and your colleagues had a wonderful way of being demanding and encouraging at the same time. I overheard several of them talking later that day about all the things they had learned from you and your group - you all really made a positive impact on them. Thank you so much!”

“My singers and I had such a fun time with you on our tour. I wish we could do a follow-up with you in the fall. We all learned so much. It was also really great that you talked to the [singers] about what it meant to be a professional singer. Many of the singers would like to take that route. All the best and thanks!”

“I always leave these rehearsals feeling better than before because I can see myself doing something like this when I'm older. This is really the beginning of my future and I'm so excited to live it!"
-Chicago a cappella High School Intern

“Trevor made me think about the music in a new way. The music is conveying a message to the audience, and we, as musicians are the messengers. It gives a new depth of soul to the music we are studying, and a revitalized energy to my work ethic."
-Chicago a cappella High School Intern

“The experience you provided from the moment we arrived was TOP NOTCH. I have been searching for years to provide for my group this very thing.” 
-High School Choral Director, Youth Choral Festival

“I had an epiphany at the Youth Choral Festival. I have never had the courage to not conduct my singers. Until today, I have never backed out of the way, and empowered the ensemble to "own" their sound. This was a real career changer. This experience will change the way I approach a cappella singing, for the better, from this day forward.” 
-High School Choral Director, Youth Choral Festival


For more information on our Education Outreach offerings contact Education Outreach Coordinator Matt McNabb.