Chicago Children’s Choir continues providing community for singers remotely


Myles Cobb

Chicago Children’s Choir Singers Gather to sing at First Unitarian Church of Chicago in Hyde Park.

Amon Gray, Assistant-Editor

Over the past year, Chicago Children’s Choir singers have delivered melodies to the ears of people all around Chicago and beyond – not through their usual in-person concerts but instead through the barrier of a Zoom screen. 

Singers still raise their voices in breakout rooms with muted microphones. While the only voice they are able to hear is their own, they continue to find community through music.

Elena Stern, senior and 10-year CCC singer, is grateful for the space that the choir has provided.

“It has given me community,” Elena said. “It has given me a sense of direction in my life and it’s really shaped my worldview.”

The multiracial, multicultural CCC was formed in Hyde Park in 1956 as a result of the civil rights movement and built to reflect Chicago’s racial and economic diversity. Today nearly 5,000 students from schools around the city sing in the choir. CCC emphasizes these civil rights values in rehearsals through discussion about this foundation and their school mission. 

According to junior Izzy Caffarelli, who has been singing with the CCC for six years, the choir has been a space outside of school to voice opinions and discuss current events. 

I enjoy singing with other people around me so during rehearsals it has been hard to be alone.”

— Izzy Caffarelli

Over the summer, CCC members gathered in person with masks and social distance to rehearse at the pavilion in Millennium Park. But as COVID-19 cases spiked, singers turned to online rehearsals.

During rehearsals over Zoom, the singers have to mute themselves, presenting challenges for singers like Izzy.

“I enjoy singing with other people around me so during rehearsals it has been hard to 

be alone in terms of singing and not hearing others around you,” Izzy said.

For virtual concerts, singers record themselves individually in advance and editors then put together the choral mix. Singers are now preparing for their Black History Month concert, which will stream live on Feb. 25. Twenty students will also be selected for a pre-recorded performance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” 

Even with singing remotely, CCC has not lost its importance to its singers. In fact, for Elena the choir has provided an outlet to process the difficulties of life in a pandemic. 

“In a time when we are all struggling with what it means to be human and humanity,“ Elena said, “when we’re all stuck inside away from everyone, it’s good to feel like there’s still something to do and still a direction in life.”