Community Created Performances

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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.

The best and wildest of rides.

May 17, 2017

Jess McLeod, Artistic Supervisor and Director

The Chicago Voices Community Created Performances program provides audiences and artists alike with an extraordinary opportunity: to hear stories of the city firsthand from individuals and communities we might not otherwise encounter.  In a mere 15 weeks, Blu Rhythm Collective, Kuumba Lynx and YOLO Boomers will share their stories in individual and group sessions facilitated by our animateur team; collaborate with myself (their director), scriptwriter Derek McPhatter and composer Mike Przygoda on how to best theatricalize them in short opera form; and undergo a professional rehearsal process in preparation for a fully-designed production at the Harris Theater.  

It’s the best and wildest of rides.

Animateur Cheri Coons listens to the personal stories of the members of HHH

Director Jess McLeod works with members of 2016 Community Created Performances group, The Kirin-Gornick Band, to add staging to their original work, "KUMOVI".

Last year, I directed one piece (KUMOVI, featuring and about the amazing Kirin-Gornick Band) and this year, I’m directing all three and leading the creative and design teams from the start. What I’m most looking forward to is really getting to know these three new groups – what initially brought them together, how they act as sources of support for each other, everything the city means to them – and then dreaming up truthful and fabulous ways to bring their stories to life onstage and through song.  Story dignifies us, even – maybe especially – when it challenges us, and I can’t wait to facilitate our groups’ journeys from talking informally about their lives in a fluorescent-lit room to proudly and confidently proclaiming who they are, where they’ve been, and where they’re going on one of the biggest stages in Chicago surrounded by the work of terrific and thoughtful artists. 

Want to know more? You can get an in-depth, behind the scenes look and watch it all unfold by visiting our complete Community Created Performance blog at the link below!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Community Created Performances?

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.

How do I see a performance?

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.

How can I vote?

Voting for the 2017 winners is closed. Follow their journey as they develop their stories for the stage at

Community Created Performances Partner