Reflections on Chorale’s High School Apprenticeship Program

We had four high school singers from throughout the greater Chicago area, chosen through competitive auditions.  They were full participants in our Beethoven Missa Solemnis preparation and performance, attending all rehearsals, working on their notes between rehearsals, while continuing with their normal high school activities.  One significant thing we all learned: generous parental involvement is very important to the success of our program. A couple of the students live considerable distances from Hyde Park, and had to be driven in each week by their parents, who then waited patiently in the back of our rehearsal room until we were done.  Another thing we learned was that there are some very talented, committed high schools singers out there, who can contribute significantly to Chorale’s success while have a new and challenging experience.

In their words:

Maggie Blackburn: I have learned so much from this experience. I got to be surrounded by people who truly loved being there and who worked hard to put this piece together. I have not had the chance to be part of a choir like this before and it has helped me improve vocally so much. My voice developed quite a bit just from this. There was no one fun moment, because the whole experience itself was fun! I really had a great time doing this work and it has shown me so much. I loved every minute of it and always looked forward to rehearsal and the performance. This opportunity has definitely impacted my future. It helped my voice develop immensely and that will help my voice only progress farther from here. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to perform with the Chicago Chorale.

Elijah Smith: Working with the Chicago Chorale was simply amazing. It helped me develop as a musician. It helped me with my sight reading, because as you can imagine, sight reading Beethoven in your first rehearsal is no easy task. It also helped me with my music theory. While analyzing this choral work, you discover new theoretical and musical functions and you see the functions that you already knew, used to their fullest. If it wasn’t for the Chicago Chorale’s High School Mentorship Program, I never would have had the opportunity to learn all this.

It is very hard to pick one favorite moment of working with Chorale. Performing on the stage of Chicago’s Symphony Center is an experience I will never forget. The atmosphere of the building is just simply magical and when standing up there in the lights and the tuxedo, you are engulfed in the majestic reality of the event. Snack time during rehearsal was also a blast. The conversations that you hear between members of the chorale never fail to crack me up.

Working with Chorale has reassured me that being a professional singer is exactly what I want to do. It has given me the sense of what skills I will need to be successful and it has showed me what I need to work on and how I can work on it. It has also exposed me to an entirely new side of singing that I would still not have discovered if I had never sung with Chicago Chorale.

Adrienne Bertsche: In Chicago Chorale’s mentorship program, I learned just how much work goes into perfecting music for a concert. But endless hours of drilling notes, rhythms, dynamics, and enunciation are only the mechanics of a choir’s beauty. I have also learned how a strong artistic vision and a deep understanding of the works performed can inspire me and help me connect to the music and the audience.

Singing with this choir, I’ve learned not just how to sing, but how to cultivate the artistry needed to produce a sound that you can be proud of. Hearing the opening chord of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis ring out through the hall of Chicago’s Symphony Center, and standing in unison with the 124 other people that you’ve worked beside for three months is an unforgettable experience.

Sasha Lilovich:1) I discovered that Beethoven spared no one. As well I've found that my sight reading has improved greatly. 2) Break time was a fun time. 3) It opened me up to the idea that balancing a musical career and another profession is a possibility.

Auditions for the 2012-13 Apprenticeship Program will take place May 18-20; the program itself will run September 5- November 20, 2012.  For more information, or to schedule an audition, contact me, Bruce Tammen, at