If there is one constant for our organization—beyond inspiring and changing lives through music—it is how essential the concept of change is to all that we do. At the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, our founder Christopher Moore knew there was no greater force for change than young people. He brought a group of young Chicagoans together with a simple vision: unite young people from all walks of life through music and they’ll discover their common humanity.
Change has guided our work for decades, and never has this been quite as true as during our 2022-23 season. We embraced the evolutionary—and revolutionary—character of our work, and changed our name to better reflect who we are, who we have always been, and who we will be in the coming decades. We elevated the belief that music cuts through the noise, brings us together and prepares young people to become the leaders of tomorrow.
The significant achievements of this remarkable year reinforce the notion that we are more than Chicago, more than children and more than a choir.
We provided more scholarships for our Bridging America tour than ever before, making a global world more accessible for young Chicagoans. We embarked upon almost a dozen unique collaborations with renowned Chicago institutions that redefined what is possible in the imaginations of our singers. By doubling down on what we do best—empower and unite young people from diverse backgrounds to find their voice and celebrate their common humanity through the power of music—we opened the door to innumerable life-changing opportunities, the impact of which will reverberate for decades.
Our world today is unfortunately not too different from the fractured world we started in, and we’re still committed to changing that. But our work over the last 66 years—and especially in the 2022-23 season—is proof that music can transcend the barriers that divide us.
Thank you for joining us on the journey to a harmonious world.
Chairman of the Board
More than 2000 singers, alumni, family, community members and supporters celebrated our evolution from Chicago Children’s Choir to Uniting Voices Chicago, a name more reflective of our long-term commitment to empowering youth to find their voice and celebrate their common humanity through music.
Members of Voice of Chicago performed with Colombian pop superstar Karol G on Saturday Night Live in April.
Singers connected with culture bearers and guest artists from around the world, exploring history through music from the Basque region, West African Djembe music, Ballet Folklorico, Renaissance and medieval vocal music, Friends of the Gamelan and other traditions.
In January, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of partnership with Off The Street Club, one of Chicago’s oldest youth service organizations, with a special concert at the Chicago Cultural Center and other events throughout the year.
David and Lesly Koo—fierce champions of our work and Red Jacket Optional 2022 honorees—activated a record-breaking $2 million in philanthropic support at our annual gala and generously committed a separate seven-figure gift in support of accessible and empowering music education programs. In his five years as Board Chair, David charted a path of growth and sustainability for Uniting Voices with whole-hearted enthusiasm and advocacy to match.
Uniting Voices launched Crescendo Fund, a multimillion dollar fundraising campaign in support of our five-year strategic plan. Former board chair and leader of this campaign Bob Fealy was one of the first to pledge one million dollars to this initiative. Bob and his wife Rose are passionate about building a harmonious Chicago and their investment has inspired others to support opportunities for education, expression and excellence.
Association of Fundraising Professionals Chicago Chapter honored Uniting Voices Board Secretary Ellen-Blair Chube with the Emerging Philanthropist Award. With nearly two decades of strategic leadership across government and the private sector, Ellen-Blair is a finance executive who brings a unique holistic perspective rooted in her experience in public policy, operations, and client-oriented work. She brings this experience alongside her passion for Chicago youth and a spirit of innovation and advocacy to her role on the Uniting Voices Board of Directors. In 2021, Board chair David Koo took home this same honor.
The evolution from Chicago Children’s Choir to Uniting Voices would not have been possible without the pivotal support of Periscope, a full-service, award-winning creative agency and a Quad Company. Periscope led a thorough process to develop a new name that reinforced the organization’s reason for being while repositioning for future aspirations and growth. Quad generously provided 18 months of pro bono services to ensure the resonance of this change. Special thanks to Uniting Voices board member Eric Ashworth, President of Agency Solutions and Executive Vice President of Product and Market Strategy at Quad.
Uniting Voices fondly remembers Nancy Carstedt (1940-2023), former executive director of the organization. Nancy led the choir to our home at Chicago Cultural Center, brought singers on a transformative tour to South Africa in 1996 and many other outstanding milestones, without which the organization would not be what it is today.
Uniting Voices mourns the loss of radio legend Lin Brehmer (1954-2023), who spent more than 30 years on the air at WXRT and collaborated with our singers at Hot Stove Cool Music, a celebration of music, baseball and giving in support of Uniting Voices’ Board Member Theo Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later.