The Community Created Performances program enables community groups from around Chicago to write, create and perform original music theater works that tell the untold stories of their communities using a core element of opera: story-telling through song. Meet our 2017 finalists and learn more about CCP here.
Visit this page often and follow along with the latest blog entries from our finalists and artists as they undergo this artistic journey.
July 21, 2017
Miles Comiskey, Blu Rhythm Collective Participant
Part of what defines the Blu Rhythm Collective (BRC) is its expansive artistic capabilities. Although the majority of the group consists of dance artists, even within that world, we have people who specialize in tap, modern, house, hip hop, ballet… everything. When it comes to music we have rappers, singers, producers, and songwriters of many ages and musical backgrounds who are coming together to work on this project with Chicago Voices. This is a tremendous asset when writing for so many different characters with different genre, instrumental, and tonal shifts.
Miles Comiskey, Blu Rhythm Collective participant, performs at the Hideout for the Chicago Voices launch event in January 2016.
Each musician in the collective knows their strengths and knows the strengths of others. Just recently I knew I needed the input of Lea Violet, a fellow BRC participant, on a certain track because she is really good at writing certain types of melodies. On another project BrittanE, another BRC participant, took a beat I had started and heard something powerful that could be added to heighten the scene for our audience. We have worked together enough, and built trust with each other to a point where we can do our work individually, come in with some sketches, and allow the group to take it to the next level. This project with Chicago Voices has brought us closer as collaborators and challenged us to tell new stories with new tonal ideas.
Part of the challenge of this work, in particular, is our desire to create a musical landscape that sounds like Chicago - past and present. For us, that means infusing each character and scene with blends of blues, soul, gospel, house, and different types of hip hop that connect to who they are and what they’re going through at any one point in the show. With each rehearsal, we are getting closer to finding that balance while making sure the whole thing feels cohesive as a single work. As each musician in the Blu Rhythm Collective adds their artistry to our emotional palette, our story’s tapestry has gotten richer and that much more connected to the deeper truths we want to share with our audience at the Harris Theater in September.
Community Created Performances are original music theater works created and performed by community groups using the core elements of opera: storytelling through song.
Chicagoans, regardless of background or experience, were invited to submit unique, untold stories from and of their communities. Applications are reviewed by an independent, community-based panel and up to 10 applicant groups are selected to be featured in individual video profiles on the Chicago Voices website. The public then views the videos and votes for the stories found to be most compelling.
The top three groups with the most votes create and develop their original work, driven by the participants and supported by Lyric Opera professional artists and staff. Working closely with these professionals, the groups each create and develop original scripts, songs, and production elements for the performances, and take part in the culminating final performance of these works.
All performances will be free and open to the public. Sign up for our mailing list or visit our website frequently to hear about the different performances.
Voting for the 2017 winners is closed. Follow their journey as they develop their stories for the stage at chicagovoices.org/ccp.
Blu Rhythm Collective is a group of Chicago urban artists pushing the boundaries of original live theater using a mix of artforms to focus on some of the city’s hardest-hitting topics. Its members are a direct reflection of Chicago and its various neighborhoods. Blu Rhythm looks to illuminate one of Chicago’s biggest issues by providing insight into the lives of young Chicagoans from these marginalized communities and their struggle to overcome the challenges of violence in order to succeed.
Kuumba Lynx is a youth development art making organization that utilizes urban arts to cultivate strong communities built on a foundation of love. Members come from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. The group strives to use Hip Hop as a means to mentor, motivate, and inspire artists to produce, share, and publish meaningful works of art. The group members see the making of an original music theater work as an opportunity to shift the perceptions of Chicago youth and their communities by telling their own stories rather than have them told by someone else.
YOLO Boomers is a group of Northcenter Chicago seniors actively engaged in different forms of creative expression including writing and improvisational acting. The group hopes to use the collective, personal stories of its members spanning decades to bust negative stereotypes associated with age. This group intends to demonstrate what it truly means to be an active senior in Chicago.