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Lyric Opera launches Chicago Voices initiative

Written by
Kris Vire

Lyric Opera of Chicago plans to spend the next two years celebrating Chicago Voices—and not just the operatic ones.

A new initiative of Lyric Unlimited, the company's four-year-old education and community engagement arm, Chicago Voices aims to laud the city's tradition of vocal music in every genre. Working in partnership with the Chicago Public Library, Chicago History Museum and Columbia College Chicago, the project promises a variety of programming through the end of 2017. Plans include a contest for Chicago residents to turn stories from their communities into fully realized works of music theater; a "citywide celebration" to include concerts, a photo exhibition, public talks at CHM and an online component where users can submit videos of themselves singing; and a gala concert on February 4, 2017, supplemented by a weekend of panels and master classes.

That concert, Lyric says, will encompass vocal talent with Chicago ties across "blues, jazz, soul, rock, folk, hip-hop, gospel and classical music." It's to be curated by the opera star and Lyric creative consultant Renée Fleming, along with an "advisory group" of musicians; the first to be announced are Herbie Hancock, Kurt Elling and John Prine.

As if to underline Chicago Voices' embrace of varied musical worlds, the project was announced by Fleming and Lyric general director Anthony Freud this evening at the Hideout, the beloved, PBR-fueled juke joint that could hardly be more different from the Civic Opera House.

Chicago Voices is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation, with support from the Chicago Community Trust and the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

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