March 06, 2019

Meet Community Created Performances Semifinalists

Vote for your favorite starting April 11

Chicago Voices, a two-year initiative led by Lyric Opera and its Creative Consultant Renée Fleming, put out a call to find Chicago-based groups that had compelling stories to share as part of the application process for Community Created Performances. We were looking for untold stories, sharing the parts of city life that may not appear on the news or in the papers. Groups were asked to tell a story that reflected the 2016 theme of the Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago, which is Chicago: The City that Gives. We were thrilled to receive a plethora of stories from groups who are just as diverse as the city itself!

We received applications from groups hailing from all different corners of the city, with varying experience in unique musical and performance arts genres. A review panel from the Chicago Public Library diligently reviewed and scored each group based on a predetermined set of criteria and helped us select the top eight groups that will be moving forward as semifinalists.

Now it’s your chance to vote for your favorites! Beginning April 11, their stories will be profiled and featured online for public voting, where we will ask YOU to choose the stories you find most compelling. The three groups who receive the highest number of votes from the public will undertake a 16-week creative process to further develop and create an original music theater work with the support of Lyric staff and artists. The groups will present the final works this fall.

Meet our eight semifinalist groups

Friends of the Gamelan

Friends of the Gamelan is dedicated to the preservation and sharing of traditional Javanese gamelan music. They are the only gamelan group in the Chicago area and seek to share their connection to the city that originated with the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair – the first time that gamelan music was brought to the western hemisphere, and continues through today.

Harmony, Hope, and Healing

Harmony, Hope, and Healing provides music-based programming in many Chicago neighborhoods as a means to offer emotional and spiritual support to homeless and underserved women, children, and men. The stories of their participants are the real-life stories of Chicagoans who, through the music and community, prevail daily over their struggles to achieve better lives.

Chicago Slam Works

Chicago Slam Works unites the voices of people from every corner of Chicago through the power of poetry and community. Their story brings into focus the many challenges of the changing neighborhoods and communities of Chicago, and what that means for the people who live in them and call them home.

Radclyffe Hall

This group of senior citizens live in the first LGBTQ-friendly, affordable housing building in the entire Midwest, Town Hall Apartments in Lakeview. Their story is one of survival: having spent most of their lives being harassed because of who they are and never feeling safe in their own homes, they finally found a safe and welcoming community with one another at Town Hall Apartments.

Forte Chicago

Forte Chicago is a new organization in Chicago that provides creative and performing opportunities to women with varying performing arts skills. Their story is that of an old Chicago rivalry between two of the city’s infamous sausage shops, Jim’s Original and Express Grill, through the unique lens of an all-female perspective.

Me, Myself, and I

A writing circle of Chicago seniors, ages 55 to 95, gathers to share their fascinating stories. Members represent many socioeconomic and religious backgrounds and have lived through the Great Depression, multiple wars, and the Civil Rights Movement in Chicago. The strength of their community, and their stories, are based on the belief that all of their memories, no matter how different, deserve to be heard.

Tellin’ Tales Theatre

Tellin’ Tales Theatre produces original theater works that celebrate people of “mixed ability”: those with physical disabilities and those without. By sharing their personal stories, they enable audience members to recognize similarities between themselves and the group members, unifying people with and without disabilities, both onstage and off.

Kirin-Gornick Band

Dedicated to the perpetuation of traditional Eastern European tambura music, the Kirin-Gornick Band is comprised of members who maintain a deep connection to this important social and cultural aspect of their heritage. Their story follows the lifelong collaboration of many of the group members, combining the rich international history of the art form with the local impact of life in Chicago.

Photos: Jaclyn Simpson